Essay on No Apologies for The Wife of Bath

851 Words 4 Pages
In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the author portrays the Wife of Bath,

Alison, as a woman who bucks the tradition of her times with her brashness

and desire for control. Chaucer is able to present a strong woman's point

of view and to evoke some sympathy for her.

In the author's time, much of the literature was devoted to validating the

frailties of women. However, in this story, the Wife is a woman who has

outlived four of five husbands for "of five housbodes scoleying" (Chaucer 50) is she.

She holds not her tongue, and says exactly what she thinks, even if she

contradicts others, even Jesus. For in the Bible it states that Jesus "Spak in

repreve of the Samaritan:/'Thou
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It is obvious that the Wife of Bath is no

submissive woman who thinks what she is told to think. She is opinionated and

blunt, qualities which present her views accordingly.

As she is not docile, the Wife must be something to the contrary, and of course

she is, to a great degree. The Wife strives to gain complete mastery over her

husbands. And gain mastery she does as "[she] hadde hem hoolly in myn hand/And

sith that they hadde yiven me al hir land/What sholde I take keep hem for to

plese/But it were for my profit and myn ese" (Chaucer 217).

The Wife's secret is

simple, "For half so boldely can ther no man/Swere and lie as a woman can"

(Chaucer 234). She does something to every husband to maintain her control. However,

Jankyn, her fifth husband, believes in everything that disparages women, which

is exactly what Alison detests. She lashes out with all she has left: "[she]

with [her] fist so took him on the cheeke/That in oure fir he fil bakward adown"

(Chaucer 799). Her deceptive scheme is to pretend to die from the blow dealt by Jankyn.

"And with his fist he smoot [her] on the heed/That in the floor I lay as I were

deed./And whan he sawgh how stille that I lay,/He was agast, and wolde have fled

his way,/Til atte laste out of my swough I braide:/ 'O hastou slain

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