The Prioress and the Second Nun

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Abstract

Although there has been a mass of work on the Prioress and the nature of her femininity, scholars have paid little attention to the relationship between her gender and her position of authority as the head of a religious house Taking account of the Prioress’s position as an office-holder in an analysis of her representation suggests that Chaucer’s depiction of her was rather less ambiguously indulgent and more deliberately disparaging than has often been allowed. Although the Second Nun, who accompanies the Prioress, is not described in detail in the ‘General Prologue’, her tale does reveal something of her character and piety. Together the Prioress and the Second Nun suggest something of the negotiations between anti-feminist theory and the actualities of everyday life which women had to make in order to wield authority.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorians on Chaucer
Subtitle of host publicationThe 'General Prologue' to the Canterbury Tales
EditorsStephen H. Rigby
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages94-113
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780199689545
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2014

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Lewis, K. (2014). The Prioress and the Second Nun. In S. H. Rigby (Ed.), Historians on Chaucer: The 'General Prologue' to the Canterbury Tales (pp. 94-113). Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689545.001.0001, https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199689545.003.0006