Analysis Of The Poem ' The Wife Of Bath ' Essay

Analysis Of The Poem ' The Wife Of Bath ' Essay

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The Wife of Bath spends a large amount of time establishing her own history before actually launching into her Tale. In her Prologue she makes a point to argue against the social structure and biblical lore that condemn her lifestyle. She then describes her first three husbands as “gode, and riche, and olde” (300, 197). She then moves into explaining her relationship with her fourth husband, in which she was equally matched in the struggle for power. Lastly she describes her relationship with her fifth husband, Jankin, who was ostensibly the worst of them all, but the Wife of Bath describes him as the one she loved the most; “That thogh he hadde me bet on every boon / He coude winne agayn my love anoon. / I trowe I loved him beste for that he / Was of his love daungerous to me.” (316-18, 511-14). The main idea that the Wife of Bath, Alisoun, presents in her Prologue is the importance of sovereignty in marriage, and how that is what she believes will bring her the most happiness. The Tale she tells relates to her Prologue. Alisoun’s Prologue discusses what is important to her in life and what is, from a woman’s perspective, unjust about the society she lives in; it can be said that the tale mirrors these topics in a dreamscape that demonstrates that Alisoun longs for happiness regardless of whether or not she has true “maistrie” over her spouse.
Alisoun describes her life with a point in mind; the point she is trying to prove to the other pilgrims she is traveling with is that her information is valuable and well founded. She wants others to trust her information. Whether or not, as an audience, we should trust her information is debatable. It is clear that she uses deception to get what she wants; “A wyse wyf, if that she can hir...


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...When he denied the maiden sovereignty when he “maugree hir heed, / By verray force he rafte hir maydenheed” (33, 31-2). He only considered his own desires; conversely, the knight seemingly ignore his desires and submits to the hag’s wishes after he has survived his trial and learned that women most desire the sovereignty that he denied the poor maiden.
Overall the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale are connected in their tone. They convey that lesson are to be learned from women and that a woman’s perspective is valuable and often ignored by men in society. Alisoun shows her true wishes about marriage and her own dreams about life through her Tale. She describes a happy ending that she hopes for with Jankin. She aspires to live happily ever after in a marriage that she neither control nor submits in, but one in which she has sovereignty and equality with her spouse.

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