The Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales Essay

The Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales Essay

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The Wife of Bath is a strong character whom is set apart from many traditional notions. As an independently traveling woman who has not only her own means but also her own out-spoken opinions, the Wife of Bath represents a creature that many assume was rather rare in the 14th and 15th centuries. With her unusual social views and her lengthy and questionable marital history, the Wife of Bath unashamedly sets herself opposed to many centuries of well-entrenched ideologies and as well as some of the other Pilgrims. Throughout the Canterbury Tales the reader discovers new aspects about the Wife of Bath, and while she definitely isn’t a villain, Chaucer certainly doesn’t make her a very likeable character.
At the time the Canterbury Tales women were experiencing an era of considerable standing in society. Many women owned property, public offices, and businesses. They also controlled land and held public office in many cases (The White Oak Society). The Wife of Bath is a product of this time of increased women’s rights, or in modern terms might be referred to as feminism. The Wife of Bath, herself, though would not be considered a feminist. Feminism by definition seeks “rights of women equal to those of men” (“feminism”). For the wife of bath this is far too shallow of a goal. She doesn’t seek to be on par with the opposite sex. The Wife of Bath wants to control and subdue men, seen both in her words and actions. She even flaunts her superior position in three of her marriages compared to more women.
A woman wise will strive continually
To get herself loved, when she's not, you see.
But since I had them wholly in my hand,
And since to me they'd given all their land,
Why should I take heed, then, that I should please,
Save it were ...


... middle of paper ...


...garding marriage and the roles of wives and husbands, it’s not believable he was trying the make the character of the Wife of Bath a warning against women who might want too much control over their lives or the idea of feminism as a whole. Instead Chaucer merely created a dynamic, controversial, and unique character to both foil other characters’ views and to keep his tales edgy and interesting.



References
Chaucer. "The Knight's Tale." The Cantebury Tales. Librarius. Web. 11 Feb. 2014. < http://www.librarius.com/canttran/wftltrfs.htm>
"feminism." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 13 Feb. 2014. .
"Women in the 15th Century." The White Oak Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. .

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