An Analysis of The Wife of Bath Prologue

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The Wife of Bath is a wealthy and elegant woman with extravagant, brand new clothing. She is from Bath, a key English cloth-making town in the Middle Ages, making her a talented seam stress. Before the wife begins her tale, she informs the audience about her life and personal experience on marriage, in a lengthy prologue. The Wife of Bath initiates her prologue by declaring that she has had five husbands, giving her enough experience to make her an expert on marriage. Numerous people have criticized her for having had many husbands, but she does not see anything immoral about it. Most people established negative views on her marriages, based on the interpretation of what Christ meant when he told a Samaritan woman that her fifth husband was not her husband. To support her situation, the Wife introduced a key figure that had multiple wives: King Solomon.

She learned how to provide for herself in a society where women had very little sovereignty and authority by gaining control over her husbands. Of her five husbands, the first three were “good” and the other two were “bad.” The first three were good because they were old, wealthy, and obedient. She put these men through torture, by charging them of ridiculous allegations until they felt guilty and gave her whatever she wanted. The Wife also used a tool of persuasion to acquire what she wanted, by withholding sexual satisfaction until they promised to her what she wanted.

Her fourth husband was her first “bad” husband when she was still in youth. They loved singing and dancing with each other and had loads of fun with each other. Unfortunately, just as she almost gains complete control over her fourth husband, he dies. Her fifth and last husband was Jankyn. She loved him even ...

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...ife’s basis of her theories about experience versus authority and to initiate the main point she portrays in her tale: The thing women most desire is complete “sovereignty” over their husbands. Since the Wife has had five husbands, she feels that she can verbalize with authority from this experience. In the prologue, she describes how she gained sovereignty over each of her five husbands.

The Wife of Bath’s tale tells about the alteration of an old woman into a beautiful woman. The moral of this tale is that true beauty lies within one’s self. The foul woman may have been representing the Wife, in that she is able to display all of her true beauty of her youth, if her true love comes along; in the Wife’s case, it is Jankyn, her fifth husband and only true love. With Jankyn by her side, she is able to transform into a faithful and loyal wife, just like the old woman.
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