The One and Only Wife of Bath In The Canterbury tales, Chaucer uses The Wife of Bath as a representation of what it was like for Women in the Middle Ages to be striped of equality and bow to the otherwise male dominated society. For the representation of women Chaucer uses the Tales of “The Scholar”, “The Second Nun “The Reeve’s”, and “The Franklin” and many others in a very dry, pretentious manner to steer readers into the view of how a women of the Middle Ages should be as a so called “virtuous” wife or woman. The concept of marriage plays a major part in manifesting the idea of the issues of inferiority of women. The perception rendered as women having to be obedient and inferior figure to their husbands or male counter parts. Chaucer …show more content…
Her self-proclaimed wisdom and experience makes her justly and to a certain extent credible enough to stand in the position that she does that is as heroine of her time. The Wife of Bath's Prologue is lengthy but everything said is important and captures a prime image of who the Wife of Bath truly is but also the society women are dealing with. Also her prologue retaliates against the problems of inferiority of women at hand. She does her best to defend herself for her life occurrences as well as preserving the merit of women. She explains "a sensible woman only busies herself to win love were there's none"(177), although one may say that this is a negative way for a woman to gain power .The positive note is that the wife of Bath cares to give the only advise she knows that has worked for her. The fact that the Wife of Bath cares about sharing advice in a sense that will cost women a chance to gain power ,cancels out the seven deadly sin of greed in her character. To expand on what was said about women and negative connotations that are placed upon them as the Wife of Bath points out was a matter that was seen even in writings of the time as her fifth husband read to her very often the wrong doings of "wicked wives" and how all women are a disturbance and only seek money and all the finer things from their men. The absolute goal was to make women look like nuisances. At this point there was much literal works to in her Prologue to prove the cynical mind
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Beginning with the prologue, the Wife of Bath makes an argument for why she believes sexuality is the key weapon to use against men to achieve her goals. Doing such, she twists the typical gender roles of the time; that women are dependent upon their husbands and need a partner for protection and wealth. The Wife also shows in her stories how she was able to falsely accuse men and continuously hold the upper hand with them, which goes against traditional gender roles of the time of women being helpless without a husband.
that he never went to hell (272). She clearly valued sex as the most important attribute of a husband for, “…in our bed he was so fresh and gay….Heaven knows whenever he wanted it- my belle chose-, thought he had beaten me in every bone…”(272) Even though her final husband had beaten her, because he was good in bed with her she felt she loved him the best of them all (272). Clearly, The Wife of Bath valued three things in her marriages, sex, power, and money. In her tale we find that power is an important role to women in marriage. A knight, after raping a women is spared by a queen (282) but in order to save his life, he has one year (283) to find, “What is the thing that women most desire”(282)? After searching, he finds no answer but on his way home finds an old women who promises she will save him, he must promise to do what she asks of him after however, and he agrees (285). When he and the old lady meet with the queen, he exclaimed, “A women want’s the self-sovereignty over her husband as over her lover, and master him; he must not be above her” (286). This answer is perfectly inline with The Wife of Baths views, she always wants to be more powerful than her husband. When the old lady says he must marry her, he protests but soon she offers him two choices, he can have her be old and ugly till she dies, but loyal, or she can be young and pretty and take chance that she might not remain faithful (291). He gives his answer to be that she may choose, thus giving her the
Oftentimes in primeval literature, female characters are unfairly judged based off sexist tendencies of previous centuries. In the mock epic, Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer narrates a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury. One of the twenty-nine traveling characters mentioned is the Wife of Bath, a spirituous, opinionated woman who tells the tale of strength and dominance. Although some may argue that Chaucer is stuck in the past and therefore uses the Wife of Bath as a reinforcement for gender stereotypes, Chaucer proves her a strong, powerful character, unconfined to ludicrous gender roles.
The Canterbury Tales depict many characters that, although fictionally created by Geoffrey Chaucer, may give the reader the opportunity to analyze and interpret their tales as a way of determining their personalities. The Wife of Bath and her prologue accurately supports this statement, as her intentions become expounded due to her questionable actions. The Wife of Bath exhibits in her prologue that she lacks respect and gratitude towards the men she beguiles into marriage and does so by falsely claiming direction from God. She shows not only deceit towards her many husbands, but also does not possess the ability to care about others before herself.
"The Wife of Bath", in the collection of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, illustrates the stereotypical image of a women in medieval times ("The Portrayal of Gender in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale.") The tale characterizes women as lustful and greedy burdens on men. However, to readers today, "The Wife of Bath" represents a strong minded feminist woman who is confident and open about her sexuality. Narrated by a character called Alisoun, "The Wife of Bath" reveals an insight to a woman’s point of view in medieval times. Alisoun begins her long prologue by declaring that she follows the rule of experience; announcing that she’s a self–proclaimed women. Throughout the her tale Alisoun questions and challenges the idea of power and authority in medieval society. Through Alisoun, Chaucer gives women a voice to express their call for equality and their need for power. By using description and characterization, Chaucer gives readers an insight to a society in which women are starting to express their desire to have power ultimately arguing that in order for men to be happy women need to have sovereignty in medieval times.
In the time period of the 14th century, many woman faced inequality. Women were not viewed to uphold the same quota as men. Most females were viewed as passive to males and were not able to make many demands in their relationships or make any contributions to their own survival or life. In the “Wife of Bath Tale”, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, Chaucer gives an insight into the struggles of a woman. Chaucer gives a voice for women who cannot speak for themselves. He creates a tale for the Wife of Bath that includes and questions the societal views of women. Written in the words of a woman, Chaucer undermines what it means to be a female in the fourteenth century who desires independence and
The Wife of Bath 's Prologue and Tale is about female empowerment it shows strong protagonists. I believe Geoffrey Chaucer used The Wife of Bath’s Tale to advocate for feminism. Chaucer used a strong female character to expose female stereotypes. It was an oppressive time for women in male-dominated society. During the Middle Ages, Chaucer wrote from a woman’s point of view something that was not normal at that time. He set his feminist ideals through the characters of the Wife of Bath and the old woman. He used subtle methods like humor to show his ideals. During Chaucer’s time nobody was used to the idea of women being equal to men, this idea did not exist. Chaucer expressed his ideas in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale by being one of the first to understand and acknowledge a women’s struggle in society, through this tale he shows the difference between men and women and their positions of power. In the Wife of Bath’s Tale, feminism is showed by the knight recognizing and listening to his wife. Chaucer is a feminist for his time because he used humor to mask his unpopular ideas he used these characters to voice his opinions.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is considered a work of satire towards medieval society by many literary critics. Chaucer uses the Wife of Bath as a prime way to quip a key fourteenth century practice wherein medieval society is patriarchal from noblemen to peasants. Women are one of the most restrained groups. The Wife of Bath narrates a story mocking male superiority and spouts a pro-women narrative. In this tale, the Wife of Bath shows women not submitting to a man’s world. For this period in time, she is a progressive who implies men are not in control of society which does not fit the mold of women at the time. She infers women are running everything from behind the curtain with men merely being used as puppets.
The ideas and theories which the Wife of Bath provides in her prologue demonstrate many of the same ideas and theories displayed in her tale. Although in her tale there are a few idealistic changes. In both the prologue and the tale, women start off as empowered beings. At the end of the prologue the Wife of Bath ends up being in a demeaning position yet the end of the tale may be interpreted in two ways.
In so much that the Wife of Bath fights back against the oppression against women, she in turn ends up treating her husbands in the same oppressive manner. It is interesting to note that in her rants against men being the controlling force in marriages, she herself was a bully to her husbands. This makes it difficult to interpret Chaucer's intentions in creating a strong women character advocating for her due rights. By vocalizing her thoughts and what were most likely many women's thoughts of his day, he gives an identity and power to those without a
In The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath gives an in-depth look on her life and understanding on the world as she perceives it. During her Prologue, we learn that what she calls experience stems from her first three marriages, but during her last two there is a shift in power. The Wife of Bath demonstrates her understanding and power throughout her first three marriages both physically and emotionally and the contrast of her lack of control in her last two, thus revealing the true meaning behind what she believes is experience during these marriages. The Wife of Bath’s authority can be viewed as realist when paralleled to the chain of being because of the emotional control she has over her previous husbands and the simple fact that she
In view of the fact that the Wife of Bath herself does seem to behave in the manner women are accused of behaving by the anti-feminist writers, it is not impossible that the Wife of Bath's Prologue could be considered a vehicle for the anti-feminist message under the guise of a seeming "feminist" exterior, since her confession is frequently self-incriminating (e.g. her treatment of her husbands, her tendency to "swere and lyen") and demonstrates the truth of the claims made by the anti-feminists even while she is disparaging them and making them look bad -- as in her claim that anti-feminist writers (specifically the "clerks", i.e. learned scholars) are revenging themselves on women because of their own sexual impotence that prevents
Chaucer never saw women as real people because they were untrustworthy, selfish, and vain and often like caricatures, he believed that women were just supposed to be housewives. Chaucer expressed how he felt about women using the Wife of Bath in the Canterbury Tales. The Wife of Bath was an example of a female stereotype of the Middle Ages. The Wife of Bath wasn’t like the other women in the Middle Ages. She was different she had a mind of her own and talked really highly of herself.
The Wife of Bath contains three issues that were pretty extreme for the women of the time period. The negative connotation linked with the women and sex is the first one, the second is the position of husband and wife in marriages that leave the women submissive and the men in control, and third is the violence done by men to women. The seriousness of these issues were not discussed at all by men and most certainly not by women. The fact that the Wife of Bath brought up such issues and promoted the ideas of women in these situations was profound. The wife is smart in her delivery in both the Prologue and Tale. The Tale restates all of the subjects of marriage, violence, and sex that she first brings up in the Prologue, and
example of the complicated nature of Chaucer’s belief system. On the one hand, we have many strong female characters that despite still being extremely dependant on the men in their lives, know what they want out of life. From a contrasting point of view, readers see a group of men, including Chaucer as the writer himself, making fun of the very nature of women as a whole. Is this really how Chaucer felt towards women, or is the prologue of The Wife of Bath’s Tale simply a parody of the opinions of his time?