The Wife Of Bath 's Prologue And Tale

1338 WordsMay 7, 20176 Pages
During medieval times, women were not placed on a high pedestal; in fact, some religious institutions at the time felt women were in almost every instance the weaker sex. Misogyny abounded during these times. Quite often than not, women played a very minimized role in medieval literature. The pattern was the same: either they were a helpless damsel in need of a knight in shining armor with his trusty stead or they were portrayed as being sexually promiscuous with multiple men which stoked the fire of love stories and stirred the passion of readers. Medieval literature exploited the “weakness” of women that aimed to enhance the drama of medieval stories. Out of all the notable medieval authors, only Geoffrey Chaucer penned one of the great…show more content…
First is the stereotype that it is deplorable for a woman to marry more than once. The Wife of Bath begins the tale with a prologue that sheds light into her life and what she has gone through as a woman. “Experience … would be quite sufficient for me, to speak of the woe that is in marriage …I have had five husbands at the church-door” (NeCastro, The Wife of Bath’s Tale: A Modern English Translation). She married five times with each marriage being different from the last, so she had to constantly adjust to each of her husbands. Churches at the time frowned upon women who wed to more than once, even if her previous husband had died. She argues that having multiple marriages isn’t inherently wrong because “many other holy men did as well” like Abraham and Jacob. Ironically, the clergy would glorify prophets in the Old Testament for their marriages, but would scoff at a woman who married five different times. Unlike her male counterparts, the Wife of Bath feels that she is equipped with greater knowledge because of her marriages. Each marriage made her a “wise wife” and enables her to teach others about marriage from her experience. She continues to defend her choice to marry five times by saying it is commanded of God to go forth and multiply. Chaucer’s prologue tactfully points out the hypocrisy of clergymen in
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