The prioress and her tale by: Eliza Bryen
In “The Prioress's Tale”, it supports a feminist reading. She asks the Virgin Mary for help in telling her tale. She appeals to a higher authority that is a female figure. The prioress says "O’ mother-maid, maid-mother, chaste and free! /...help me tell my story/ in reverence of thee and thy glory /" (Chaucer 170). This represents that the prioress is asking the Virgin Mary for help to tell her tale. For whatever reason, the Prioress feels that she needs help in telling her tale and who is better to ask than the Virgin Mary. In addition, she can be viewed as a feminist because she asks such a strongly respected women figure that she looks up to showing her feminism. Also the prioress says "wherefore in honor of thee, as best I can, / of thee and of what whitest lily-flowered / that bare thee, all without the touch of man, / I tell my tale and will put forth my power, / though all unable to increase her dower / of honor, who is honor itself, and root / of bounty, next to thee, her body's fruit." (Chaucer 170). The quote explains another reason why she looks up to the Virgin Mary, she does nothing wrong. This is also contributing to the opinion that the prioress is a feminist.
Another literary critic also has the same opinion that the prioress is a feminist. “The Prioress is indeed extremely ‘feminine’.” (Martin 37). The Prioress is very feminine like as it says in her prologue. She is overall a neat and clean person and she especially eats very neatly and elegantly, which is feminine. The other pilgrims recognize that part of her personality which is why they accepted her tale as true and that she is not lying. On the other hand, the wife of bath is not neat and not looked as like a feminist (in most cases at least) and the pilgrims do not really believe her when she says her prologue and tale.