The Wife of Bath, one of the many characters in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, is a feminist of the fourteenth century. Chaucer, in the "General Prologue," describes her as promiscuous. The Wyf confirms this claim in the prologue to her tale, the longest in the book. An analysis of the "General Prologue" and the "Wyf's Prologue" reveals a direct relationship between the Wyf of Bathe and the characters in her tale, such as the knight, queen, and ugly woman.
There is a direct correlation between the physical characteristics of the Wyf of Bathe and the thematic structure of her tale. The way Chaucer describes her, gives the reader an "inside" view to the Wyf of Bathe. In the "General Prologue", for example, Chaucer describes her as "a good Wyf"(447) and not by her real name, giving the impression that she is overly dependant on men. Chaucer mentions that the Wyf goes on many pilgrimages. She does not go for the religious experience, but to meet a new husband. She travels the earth, in search of another man to be dependant on. He writes, "In al the parisshe wyf ne was ther noon/That to th' offring before hir sholde goon"(451).
Chaucer also describes her as wearing fine clothing. "Hir coverchiefs ful fine were of ground"(455). She wears "shoos ul moist and newe"(459), and "hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed" (458) symbolizes her fiery temper and stubborn personality. Also, by the expensive clothing, it appears that, although not nobility, she tries to give off the impression of being noble. She is "gat-tothed,"(470) implying promiscuity, as well as with "hir hipes large,"(474) that keep her up on her "amblere"(471).
The Wyf of Bathe's domination of men parallels the aspiration of the knight in he...
... middle of paper ...
...ion as specific as the ones in The Canterbury Tales, especially within the church, are not easily found. The Wyf's reaction to the male dominated era that she lives in also gives insights into the way females deal with their lack of authority in their culture. By refusing to sleep with her husbands, and making them believe that she is having an affair, she is able to control them. Forced to give up their manhood to her, they obey her every word. When they don't enslave themselves to her she manipulates them until they are finally forced to give in to her power. Her story proves the "battle between the sexes" to be an age-old war, in which women must use their cunning and wiles to advance their position in society. These examples help make The Canterbury Tales, not only a work of literature, but a historical view into the Middle Ages, its people and cultures.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Wife of Bath is a complex character-she is different from the way she represents herself. Maybe not even what she herself thinks she is. On the surface, it seems as though she is a feminist, defending the rights and power of women over men. She also describes how she dominates her husband, playing on a fear that was common to men. From a point of view of a man during that time period, she seemed to illustrate all of the wrongs that men found in women. Such as a weak parody of what men, then saw as feminists.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
541 words (1.5 pages)
- Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is the story of a large group of men and women going to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. Each of the travellers introduces themselves and tells an interesting tale during their journey. One of the travellers, the Wife of Bath shares her views on social relationships between men and women. The fourteenth century is viewed as having a patriarchal dominated society. However, the Wife of Bath, Alisoun, is a strong believer in female maistrie, control in the marriage.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
1316 words (3.8 pages)
- In The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath gives an in-depth look on her life and understanding on the world as she perceives it. During her Prologue, we learn that what she calls experience stems from her first three marriages, but during her last two there is a shift in power. The Wife of Bath demonstrates her understanding and power throughout her first three marriages both physically and emotionally and the contrast of her lack of control in her last two, thus revealing the true meaning behind what she believes is experience during these marriages.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
2256 words (6.4 pages)
- 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.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Prologue Essays]
1242 words (3.5 pages)
- When talking of the Medieval literature, one of the most outstanding works might be The Canterbury Tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer, which recorded stories told by 29 pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. Among them, the sixth story, The Wife of Bath's Tale, left the strongest impression on me. After some further study on it these days, it came to me that there are three points in this character that impressed me most: Her fashionable dressing, her sinuous marital experience and her overseas adventures.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
792 words (2.3 pages)
- The institution of marriage has always been viewed as a lifetime bond which should never be broken. In addition, there are certain general vows that each party usually takes- to be faithful, obedient, and loving. For years, this verbal agreement was enough to keep even the toughest of marriages together for a long time. Enter the Wife of Bath, the polar opposite of the medieval woman. She was loud, brash, and deceitful- making her seem like the least likely person to get married. However, she ends up marrying five men.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
1309 words (3.7 pages)
- The Wife of Bath In Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", the Wife of Bath tells a tale that includes irony to her and Chaucer. She was considered a beautiful woman but today would be considered ugly. She is considered worthy but vulgar. The reader would think her title showed that she was a loyal wife but the reader will soon know that is not true. Her tale and she have some symbolism each other. Some aspects of the tale resemble Chaucer's life. The general prologue of the "Canterbury Tales" by Chaucer the Wife of Bath is one of three of the women.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
1345 words (3.8 pages)
- Questionable Decisions by the Wife of Bath In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer creates a wonderfully complex character in the Wife of Bath. She exhibits many traits easily identifiable as virtuous--honesty, cheerfulness, and the desire to follow the teachings of the Bible. At other times she reveals traits easily perceived as negative--greed, cruelty, and promiscuity. By the end of her tale to the other pilgrims, more light is shed on her character when it becomes apparent that her tale parallels certain aspects of her own life.... [tags: Wife of Bath]
1114 words (3.2 pages)
- The Wife of Bath’s Tale features a character that seemed to resemble a feminist. But in Chaucer’s time, feminism was thought to be abnormal and the pilgrims reacted negatively towards her for it, but The Wife of Bath had no shame about displaying herself as she really was. She was not ashamed of the fact that she had been married five times, and was about to marry again and she hid nothing. The prologue of this tale showed that the Wife of Bath was not seen as an upstanding woman, nor did she desire to be seen as one.... [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
833 words (2.4 pages)
- Chaucer's Wife of Bath Before beginning any discussion on Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, one must first recognize that, as critic Elaine Treharne writes, “Critical response to the Wife of Bath has been as diverse as it has been emotive” (2). Some critics love the Wife of Bath and her controversial prologue, proclaiming that she is a woman of strength and powerful words; others hate her and cover the eyes of younger girls, determined that Wife of Bath is instead a role model of what women should not be; and the rest remain a bit confused, simply excusing themselves and the Wife herself.... [tags: Chaucer Wife Bath Essays]
2469 words (7.1 pages)