February 16, 2001
Analysis of the Wife of Bath
In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Chaucer starts his prologue with the description of twenty-nine people who are going on a pilgrimage. Each person has a different personality that we can recognize from the way people behave today. He purposely makes The Wife of Bath stand out more compared to the other characters. "In the "General Prologue,' the wife of bath is intentionally described in an explicit way to provoke a shocking response" (Blackman 23). The way she dresses and her physical features are references to her past. By referring to her attitude on men and her physical appearance, Chaucer questions the Wife of Bath's behavior reguarding strick Christian rules. The Wife of Bath is a headstrong and a bold woman of her time. She often shows off her Sunday clothes with pride by wearing ten pounds of cloth woven by herself under her hat. Her clothing shows that she is not timid or shy and also shows off her expertise in dressing.
Chaucer discusses his words to describe the Wife quite differently. His descriptions of her facial features suggest sexuality. When he mentions about the gap between her teeth. Wife of Bath is a very self-confident woman who thinks highly of herself. "She is perhaps the most fully realized character in the Canterbury tales. She wages a perpetual struggle against the denigration of women and the taboos against female sexuality" (Mader 115). By using biblical examples such as Solomon, the Wife refuses the strict religious claims for chastity and monogamy. She claims that the reason for the bias against women in these texts is due to the lack of experience and contact with women of those who write the text. The Wife of Bath is overtly manipulative, using her sexuality as a weapon against her husbands in order to force the husband to provide for her. She cruelly accuses her husband of ingratitude and withholding sex to extract gifts from her...