Essay on Chaucer's The Wise Wife of Bath

Essay on Chaucer's The Wise Wife of Bath

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Chaucer's The Wise Wife of Bath

The Wife of Bath, in my opinion, is one of Chaucer's wisest

characters.  I am somewhat surprised that he made up such a character, as

he was writing these tales in the early fourteenth century.    She took

what she did have, which was wit and wisdom, and used it to her advantage.

Although she was assumed to be an ugly old woman, she had five husbands all

of whom she had mastered only to have them die.  She personifies the

character that women of her era secretly aspired to, however because of the

restrictions imposed upon them by society, they could not be the Wife of



      She is obviously a very strong woman and knows what she wants.

"Experience, though no authority were in this world, were good enough for

me, To speak of woe that is in all marriage"(Chaucer, 103) as she states in

the introduction to her tale.  She is a self professed authority on the

etiquette of marriage.  Her extensive knowledge and education on matters of

the heart have been acquired through experience, and through the

conventional means of learning.


      Through her tale she explains herself, in a sense.  She speaks of a

wise, but ugly old woman.  A handsome young knight happens upon the old

woman.  She asks him what he is seeking. The young knight explains to her

that he, as punishment, was sent on a quest to discover what women desire

most. The old woman's answer is a simple but costly one.  In exchange for

her assistance, the old woman demands that he oblige her one request. The

knight hastily agrees that he will allow her the request.  Thus, she has

taken her wisdom and used it to her advantag...

... middle of paper ...

...ave and

once we get it we do not want it anymore.  She has used the men in her life

for riches and happened upon her fifth husband whom she loved only because

he did not give much love back to her.


      All the reasons described above are why the Wife of Bath was a

remarkable and different woman.  She leans toward a feminist nature and

seems resentful toward men.  For women, she is easy to respect and look up

to for advice.  For men, she is an intelligent woman but may not know the

limits of her games.


Works Cited and Consulted

Bowden, Muriel.  A Reader's Guide to Geoffrey Chaucer.  New York:  Noonday Press, 1964.

Hallissy, Margaret.  A Companion to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  London:  Greenwood Press, 1995.

Nardo, Don, ed.  Readings on the Canterbury Tales.  San Diego:  Greenhaven Press, 1997.

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