The Wife of Bath: A Literary Analysis Essay

The Wife of Bath: A Literary Analysis Essay

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Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is an important part of his most famed work, The Canterbury Tales. One of the most respected highly analyzed of all of the tales, this particular one is important both for its character development and its prevailing themes. It seamlessly integrates ideas on society at that time with strong literary development. This work stands the test of time both because of its literary qualities and because of what it can teach us about the role of women in late Medieval society.
In terms of literary quality, Chaucer went great lengths to give all elements a bit of attention. The work is primarily about a knight who is pardoned from a rape on the condition that he acquires the answer to one of life’s most difficult questions. He is sent out on a quest to figure out what women want from their men, and he is eventually successful in this task. Chaucer uses the action and the plot along with strong character development to make this a compelling story. First and foremost, he develops the Lady of Bath very well in the prologue to this work. In her article in the Chaucer Review, Susan Carter writes at length about the ways in which Chaucer uses strong character development to hammer home his points. She writes, “If Chaucer is not actually endorsing the strident voice he gives to the Wife, he is certainly making play with textuality, with subjectivity, and with the construction of ideas about sexuality” (Carter, 2003). Alongside the character usage, Chaucer creates a stirring plot where the knight is nearly brought down until he is finally saved by a woman late in the game. The atmosphere surrounding this story is somewhat dark and mysterious, especially when Chaucer includes magic as a part of the eq...


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...he work of Geoffrey Chaucer is often lauded for its use of language, literary strength, and its understanding of social change. This work is no different, and it should be praised for that. The author does much with the language and has a plan with the work. Through a creative use of certain literary items, he gets across strong and central points about the role of women in his society.





Works Cited
Chaucer, Geoffrey (1987). “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue.” The Riverside Chaucer, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 105-116.
Hammond, Eleanor Prescott (1908). Chaucer: A Bibliographic Manual. New York: Macmillan.
Kittredge, George Lyman. "Chaucer's Discussion of Marriage." Modern Philology 9 (1912), 435-67.
Carter, Susan. "Coupling the Beastly Bride and the Hunter Hunted: What Lies Behind The Wife of Bath's Tale." Chaucer Review, Vol. 37 No. 4 (2003), 329-345.




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