The View of Marriage in The Wife of Bath

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The View of Marriage in The Wife of Bath

The Wife of Bath has her own perception of marriage, which Chaucer shows in both the

Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale. Marriage itself was defined by Webster's Dictionary as the

state of being married, a wedding ceremony and attendant festivities, or a close union. Marry

or married is said to be joined as husband and wife according to law or custom, or to take as

husband or wife, says Webster's Dictionary. In both the Prologue and Tale of the Wife of Bath

we see the institution of marriage used as control over money and sexual powers. Chaucer's

Wife of Bath displays a complete sense of mockery toward marriage as a holy institution. The

Prologue and Tale of the Wife of Bath clearly show that the Wife of Bath sees marriage as a

woman's dominance over a man.

In the Prologue, the Wife of Bath starts to defend her actions of marrying five men. She

interprets from scripture:

All I know for sure is, God has plainly bidden us to increase and multiply a noble

text, and one I understand! And, as I'm well aware, He said my husband must

leave father and mother, cleave to me. But, as to number, did He specify? He

named no figure, neither two nor eight why should folk talk of it as a disgrace?


She uses her marriages as a sort of fulfillment of God's word. Using two specific examples

from scripture she explains why her marriages are justifiable by God:

For then, says the Apostle Paul, I'm free to wed, in God's name, where it pleases me. He

says to be married is no sin, better it is to marry than to burn. I know that Abraham was

a holy...

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...Bath wanted to have dominance over all males that is what she shows in her

own life, the Prologue, as well as in her Tale. The queen in the tale has the power to let her

husband behead the knight. The Wife of Bath herself held sexual deeds over her husbands in

exchange for money. She held power over their property and money. The women of this story

are portrayed as opposites of the way women were supposed to act in those times. These woman

were independent although still able to be put into their place by their husband. There is always

an alternative motive, which is the woman receives what she wants in the end. The Wife of Bath

is not a picture of chastity but she proves that there is nothing wrong with marrying more than

once because she waited for each to die before remarrying and in the bible the men say that it is

all right by the Lord to marry.

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