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The Wife of Bath complex personality and worldly lifestyle is what makes this story a
classic. I would characterize her as one of many women who shared the same anti-
feminist ideas of her time. A detailed description of The Wife of Bath portrays her as a
brave and original woman.
This is a great story because Chaucer created a story that had characters with multiple characteristics, but the story was not based on the wealthy as most poems were in the era.
In the prologue, she mostly deals with her failed marriages and her knowledge in relationships between the sexes. In all, she has a strong desire to be above men and dominate them. Her actions in the prologue are legendary for anti feminists. She wears expensive clothes, ten pounds of cloth on her head, a large hat and a scarlet red dress. She learns that it is very important for a woman to satisfy her man, and she knows how to act to make him obedient and less powerful. As an example, the Wife of Bath fakes being murdered by her fifth husband to make him sorry for beating her and to get authority over him. Before the funeral of her fourth husband, she was previously married three times to old wealthy men who treated her well. The trend of old and wealthy switched to young and difficult with in her last two marriages. The last husband was violent, and his hands on approach to the relationship ended up being his downfall.
Some of The Wife of Baths shortcomings and faults were her inability to maintain a stable relationship and her desire to flirt with other men while her husbands were out of town. Other than her failures in relationships, she was a pioneer for women of her time. At a time when women did not have a lot of freedom, she seemed to live a free lifestyle. She spoke her mind and was quick to talk about her knowledge in pleasing men, sex and she spoke out against virginity. Another strong characteristic she possessed could was her ability to please herself and her how she refused to consider the opinion of others. This trait could also be looked at as a negative, because she did not care about her first 4 husbands either. The Wife of Bath also spoke her mind on the traditions that existed in her generation.
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The story of the knight and the kings is in relation to her marriage with her last husband. When the knight uses his masculine authority to take advantage of a woman, it is strikingly similar to her fifth husband beating her. In the end she uses his mistake to give her dominance and to put her in complete control of the relationship. As part of the knights punishment for raping a virgin, he must learn and grant women dominance or die.
He meets and "old hag" and has to let her have dominion and respect her. She wants marriage from him so he has to take her as wife. The knight does not want to marry her because of her age and he doesnt find her attractive. In the end he must decide whether to have an old hag who will be loyal, or have a young pretty young thing who could possibly cheat on him. He decides to marry the young beautiful woman, but her grants her total dominance.
The Wife's tale suggest that she believes women should be dominant in relationships.