Canterbury Tales: A Feminist Perspective of Wife of Bath

1132 Words5 Pages
A Feminist Perspective of Wife of Bath Many literary critics throughout the years have labeled the Wife of Bath, the "gap-toothed (23)" character of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, a feminist. She is a strong-willed and dominant woman who gets what she wants when she wants it. However, this is not the definition of a feminist. A feminist is someone who believes that women and men are equal, while also is able to recognize and appreciate the unique characteristics of both sexes. A feminist celebrates what it means to be a woman, and a feminist is definitely not what Chaucer meant his character to be interpreted as. If anything, the Wife of Bath could safely be called a sexist. She constantly emphasizes the negative connotations associated with women throughout the ages, and believes that all women are inherently that way. The Wife of Bath describes women as greedy, controlling, dishonest creatures. Also, even though it seems contradictory, she has no respect for her body or the rights of women, and is an insult to true feminists everywhere. The commonly used example of the Wife of Bath's so-called "feminism", is the incident in which she rips pages out of her husband's extremely sexist book. He proceeds to hit her in the head, causing her to fall to the floor in pain. This seems like an act of female liberation, but it is far from that. She did not think the horribly sexist stories her husband read to her were untrue. In fact, the stories sounded like something the Wife of Bath would say herself. She lashes out because she can not face her flaws. The Wife of Bath actually says that women can have no one "reprove us for our vice, but say we are wise and not at all foolish...there is not one of us who will not kic... ... middle of paper ... ...etting out of the relationship, she loves him more for it. When talking about him she says: "...even if he had beaten me on every bone, he could soon win my love again" (205). Feminists, who are against battery and rape, would be disgusted at the Wife of Bath's comments. The Wife of Bath is in no way a feminist. Even when saying or doing something that seems feminist, it has other greedy intentions behind it. Feminists celebrate the intuitiveness of women, and the Wife of Bath cannot even face herself. She emphasizes the negative stereotypes associated with women, such as dishonesty, nagging, cruelty, greed, and control, which puts her in the same category as a sexist. Also, she seems to see nothing wrong with the most horrible things that can be done to a woman, such as battery and rape. To call the Wife of Bath a feminist, is an insult to women everywhere.
Open Document