In the "General Prologue- of Canterbury Tales Chaucer describes the pilgrims who take a religious journey to the shrine of Thomas Becket. There are 29 pilgrims in all, and only two are women-the Prioress and the Wife of Bath. Through his depiction of the women, Chaucer incorporates his opinion on society using ridicule and mockery. Though both are given a fair description, each is criticized for her personality and mannerisms. The role of women, the devoutness of the church, and the pilgrim's values and motives are satirized and questioned through the description of each, and the importance of social status and an essence of the lifestyle of late medieval times is clearly evident. Since there are only two women, it is apparent that men dominate the society of the time. The Prioress, a nun, is supposedly a religious figure, but her description has no mention of her holy devotion, and in fact implies that she has none. Chaucer's harsh criticism of the corruptness of the church institution and his anticlerical views are found in almost every portrait of a religious figure in the tales, signifying that immorality among the clergy was quite prevalent. The Wife of Bath is representative of the women of the lower class, and is compared to as well as contrasted with the Prioress, since they are the only two females that Chaucer includes in the "General Prologue."" Most importantly, the reader sees that women have virtually no importance in society other than to act and appear well mannered and respectful, along with dutiful and obedient to their husband. Neither of these women embodies the ideal woman of the time, but each possesses some feature that can be considered typical. .
The Prioress strives to be polite and proper, and is described as "very cheerful, most pleasant, and amiable in bearing-(Page 9, line 138). It was respectable at the time to be able to speak French, and the Prioress does so "well and properly-(Page 7, line 125), yet she speaks with improper pronunciation after the rural Stratford-at-Bow school, and is not familiar with the French spoken in Paris.