The Wife of Bath’s Tale in the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a very pivotal point in the text. It argues in favor of feminine dominance in marriage in a time where women were always under the skeptical view. The leading example of the medieval skeptical view of women is St. Jerome’s response against Jovinian. It shows how women were more restricted than men and thought to be in the fault for the wrong things that happen to them. Chaucer opposes that stereotype by introducing the Wife of Bath, a very radical character just like the other characters in the Canterbury Tales. The Wife is a very outspoken feminist and justifies her decision to remarry four times. She uses St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and other arguments to undermine the traditional antifeminism arguments, such as St. Jerome’s, against her remarriages. Two of the traditional arguments that support the popular medieval belief that a woman should only marry once are that we should follow Jesus’ actions and obey his words. One of the arguments is Jesus’ words to the wife of the Samaritan. Jesus told “her that her fifth husband is not her husband (Chaucer p. 219).” This statement implies that Jesus disapproves women marring five times but the wife argues that Jesus’ words can have many interpretations and that there is really no way to know for sure which one is right (Chaucer p.219). The second argument dealing with Jesus is that the medieval society thought that since Jesus only went to one
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
“The life so short, the craft so long to learn” (Famous Quotes). The Canterbury Tales is enriched with humanistic merit that allows the reader to sharpen his or her own craft of life. Specifically, “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and “The Clerk’s Tale” are embodied with multiple struggles of life that pertain to life in the present. Despite seven centuries of society constantly evolving, the two stories’ plots can still be further analyzed through similar themes about relationships that pertain to modern society and how rhetorical strategy allows the audience to relate to the narrative characters.
In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, he introduces a character known as the Wife of Bath. It is her turn to tell the stories, and her tale begins discussing her past marriages in the prologue. Married five times, the Wife of Bath tells us about her own marital issues, and the way she was able to manipulate the gender roles to her own advantage. As interesting of a character as she is, I find Chaucer created the Wife of Bath to deliberately introduce the issues gender roles play in our society. I believe that the role the of the Wife of Bath in the tale was purposely written by Chaucer to twist the traditional gender roles of the time, satirizing how gender plays in society.
Often at times people can feel disconnected from themselves, from the world, or even friends and families; Therefore, causing tension in relationships. Which was displayed in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” when the knight searches all over the world to find out what women most desire in a man. Also in “One Amazing Thing” there are various stories from different characters that have had trouble with personal stories and how one gender or religious belief can be more dominate than the other.
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.
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.
"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.
The Wife of Bath begins the prologue to her tale by boasting of her experience in marriage. She has married five men already, and ignores the idea that this is a reproach to Christian principles. She is merely adhering to the Christian principle of "be fruitful and multiply." She cites the case of King Solomon, who had multiple wives, and tells the group that she welcomes the opportunity for her sixth husband. She also points out that Jesus never lays down a law about virginity, and essentially states that we have the parts for sex and should use them as such. The Pardoner objects to the Wife of Bath's musings on marriage, but she decides to tell
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.
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 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
Among all the characters in The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath is arguably the most famous and iconic. She is objectively among the most well-developed characters in the story, with much more emphasis being placed on her own personal history rather than the tale she tells. This is even noticed by the characters, who note that “this is a long preamble of a tale” (Chaucer 831), implying that the Wife of Bath was meant to be the standout character of the story from the start. With the negative stereotypes of women running rampant throughout her character only to be subverted in the end, the Wife of Bath manages to stand out among the masses of readers and critics with the duality and complexity of her character, as well as being an early example of feminist representation by criticizing misogynistic stereotypes and the double standards against women in society.
The Wife of Bath uses bible verses in “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue.” Further, she employs the verses as an outline of her life to find reason in God to justify her actions. Nevertheless, the purpose of the verses differs within each stanza of the poem. The Wife of Bath is a sexually promiscuous, lustful, and manipulative woman. She marries men one after the other as they get older and die. In order to combat and overthrow the speculation and criticism being thrust upon her by societal norms because of her marriages, the wife turns to specific bible passages to find reason in life and support for her actions (Article Myriad.com). When the wife is having sex quite frequently and with different men she is said to be fruitful and multiplying. According to the wife, this is what she is told to do in the bible passage, which she has misinterpreted. Ironically, The Wife of Bath is using a predominantly male dominated book to back up and support her reasons for women being equal to men (Article Myriad.com). Not only has she referred to the benefits of adultery through the bible, she has also attempted to undermine the power of men in the very same way she has attempted to prove that the genders are equal. From this, it can be interpreted that although the wife claims to be providing evidence for women being equal to men, she is actually saying that women are better than men. She misinterprets the readings of the bible and male written passages on purpose in order to suit her needs.
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?
Dominant and submissive roles have existed in relationships between men and women since the dawn of time. Since then, Women have overturned public oppressions, e.g. working outside the house, voting, and having equal rights to men, but have yet to establish a non-submissive relationship with their male partners. The moral of Wife of Bath is the desire women have to have power over their husband and how this dominance is beneficial for them and through the course of the tale, the speaker makes an effort to express her views of control in a happy marriage.