The Wife of Bath is the tale of an independent and headstrong woman. She strongly believes in the worth of every woman and that women should be dominant in their marriages. The Wife of Bath also directly speaks against strict religious claims for chastity and monogamy, using Biblical examples. These examples include Solomon to show that the Bible does not openly condemn all expressions of sexuality, even outside of marriage.
The fact that this question still exists shows that the answer proves neither easy nor definitive. Women are diverse in their idea of what they want and what they desire to fulfill their needs. According to The Wife of Bath, she believes that women want mutual respect. Throughout history, women are portrayed as being the subordinate sex. Moreover, women live lives of being subservient to their male counterparts. The Wife of Bath felt the need to express the fact that there is an obvious problem with the balance of power within the marriage. Consequently, she set forth on a journey to confirm that women can be just as overbearing, domineering and cruel as men. She demanded to be heard.
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
. . [and] in both cases the character's lives are at stake because of something they have done” (website 3). However, the Wife of Bath’s tale deviates from its source material in that the knight from the Wife of Bath’s tale “gets into his predicament by raping a young maiden. In "Dame Ragnell," King Arthur is accused of giving Sir Gawain land that belongs to someone else, Gromer Somer Joure” (website 3). Chaucer chooses to change the crime that is described in the story because the crime of rape aligns more with the feminist theme of his tale than the confusion over property rights does because rape is a violation of a woman’s sovereignty over herself. The other reason that this section of the story supports the Wife of Bath’s feminist message is because of the nature of the task that Queen Guinevere gives the knight, which is actually derived from the legend of “The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle”. The Wife of Bath’s tale and the Arthurian legend from which the tale is derived have “crimes [that] are completely different, yet they still warrant similar
This statement demonstrates that the role of women, such as The Wife of Bath’s, was to be a dominant leader of the marriage. She describes her husband as her slaves and debtor,
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.
The Wife of Bath is not only sexually driven but she is also money hungry. She has five husbands and of them all she only marries one for love. She believes that all of her husband’s have a debt to pay to her. “In bed they met their grief in fullest measure./There I would scold; I would not do their pleasure./Bed was a place where I would not abide/If I felt my husband’s arms across my side/Til he agreed to square accounts and pay,/And after that I’d let him have his way”(Chaucer, 1332). She uses this money to give to charity and if anyone gives more than her, they felt her wrath. She would “dry up all the charity in all of Bath” (Chaucer, 1317). She believes that a wife is entitled to have what her husband owes her. They are in debt to her and until this debt is paid they cannot have their way with her. The more money given the more she makes her man sweat. It is almost like he is rewarded for paying her. She is not only driven by money she is driven by her strong demeanor to stand up for her beliefs and values despite what others have to say.
The Wife of Bath pursued husbands in a way that did not benefit both sides of the marriage. She clearly admits that she does not show shame from having sexual relations with many different men, as she simply desires sex and riches from wealthy men. Medieval civilizations did not consider this behavior appropriate, as it conflicted with ideas of courtly love and God’s word. She states that, “I am dominated by the planet Venus in my senses, and my heart is dominated by the planet Mars” (Chaucer 626). This statement supports that her body and desires only seek pleasure, while her true soul remains conflicted, unable to truly love. At the end of each marriage she appears as the one who reigns victorious and still willing to remarry: “I boast of one thing for myself; in the end I had the better in every way” (430). The Wife does not have respect for her multiple wedded spouses, and would rather remain happy when they leave her than to flood herself with emotion of sadness.
The prologue of this tale showed that the Wife of Bath was not seen as an upstanding woman, nor did she desire to be seen as one. She portrayed feminism, almost as soon as she began speaking in the prologue, she explained that she had gone through five husbands, and she was on the look out for a sixth. She also admitted that she married for money:
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
One main theme in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is female dominance and equality. In the tale, the wife portrays her dominance through her own experience. For example, the image of the whip sets her role as master, and she tells everyone that she is the head of her household. Despite her claim that experience is her sole power, the Wife of Bath evidently feels the need to create her authority in a more scholarly manner. She mimics the habits of the scholars and churchmen by supporting her claims with quotations from antique works and scripture.
The Wife of Bath had five husbands, and she believes that women should have all the power in the marriage. This is very important to her tale, and the Wife of Bath shows just how smart she was, manipulating her
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.
In a time like the renaissance when people did not brush their teeth or practice even semi proper hygiene, how can we even begin to compare love to what it is today? Love throughout time is filled with imbalance yet the causes vary greatly. It could stem from overbearing partners and jealousy, financial turmoil, or infidelity. When we notice these imbalances in love, specifically marriages, we must look to see where love meets real life, and if the two are realistically compatible in this time period.
The moral of Wife of Bath is that happiness in a relationship is when a woman is able to have control over her husband against a backdrop of the submissive wives of the Middle Ages. The prologue portrays a jovial woman who introduces herself and her beliefs on marriage. She has never been fond of authority and attributes her expertise in relationships to marriages with five different men. The Wife of Bath’s tale depicts a knight who needs to learn women’s greatest desire within a year in order to avoid beheading. The knight learns that “women desire to have the sovereignty and sit in rule and government above their husbands, and to have their way in love” (Lines 156-8). In the end, the sovereignty the knight gives to his old wife transforms her into a young woman and, “they lived in full joy to the end” (Line 325). The tale is not only a reflection of one’s interest to dominate a relationship, but also a need