Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - The Powerful Wife of Bath

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - The Powerful Wife of Bath

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The Powerful Wife of Bath

      In Geoffrey Chacer's The Canterbury Tales we are introduced to 29

people who are going on a pilgrimage to St. Thomas a Becket in Canterbury.

Each person is represented to fit a unique type of behavior as shown by

people during the medieval ages.  My attention was drawn to the Wife of

Bath through which Chaucer notes the gender inequalities.  Predominantly,

women could either choose to marry and become a childbearing wife or go

into a religious order.  Women were seen as property.  Women during this

period of time, had limited choices when it came to societal roles.  The

Wife of Bath exonerates the accepted roles of society, reflecting women's

attempt to gain control during the medieval period.


        The General Prologue presents an interesting description of The

Wife of Bath.  Her character is noted to be strong and bold and we learn

she is slightly deaf.  The Wife of Bath was married and widowed five times

and has had numerous companions.  The Wife of Bath is a skilled cloth maker

and a devoted Christian pilgrim who has made trips to several shrines.


        Through her unique introduction in The General Prologue we learn

much of her physical attributes.  The Wife of Bath is gapped tooth.


                "Gat-toothed was she, soothly for to saye.

                Upon an amblere esily she sat" (p.91, ll. 470-471)


This physical feature is attributed to lust and passion.  The fact that she

could ride a horse easily also could take on sexual connotations (Maclaine

32).  The horse she "rides" so well could actually be her husband.


        Early in the Wife of Bath ...

... middle of paper ...

... of

Bath is unique in her style of thinking, which is what makes this

character so interesting to study.


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.

Herman, John P. and John J. Burke, Jr., ed.  Signs and Symbols in Chaucer's Poetry.  University, Alabama:  University of Alabama Press, 1981.

Lambdin, Laura C. and Robert T. Lambdin, ed.  Chaucer's Pilgrims:  An Historical Guide to the Pilgrims in the Canterbury Tales.  London:  Greenwood Press, 1996. 

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

Plummer, John F.  "The Wife of Bath's Hat as a Sexual Metaphor."  English Language Notes, 18 (1980-1981).



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