The Canterbury Tales

Topics: The Canterbury Tales, Woman, Husband Pages: 3 (1173 words) Published: March 8, 2014

Fall 2013
Paper Number 1: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales-The Wife of Bath
The Wife of Bath is a character that Chaucer presents as an attractive female in its prologue. She is a headstrong and very self-confident woman of her time who thinks highly of herself. Chaucer’s descriptions of her facial and bodily features are sexually suggestive. In the Prologue, Chaucer's narrative involves her physical appearance describing her clothes, legs, feet, hips, and her gap-tooth, which during the medieval time symbolized sensuality and lust. This woman from Bath, a South West English town, is one that owns a powerful personality and wears incredibly extravagant clothes. Chaucer emphasizes the red color in her description twice: her stockings are “the finest scarlet red” and her lovely face is “red in hue”. This emphasis suggests the wife of Bath as a pretty sensual woman because the red color is a symbol of passion, desire, heat, seduction, love, and sexuality. Also, she wears leather heels “soft and new” which is another sign of her stylish garments. She shows off her Sunday outfit with evident pride which symbolizes to the reader that she is not timid or shy under any circumstance. Moreover, she seems like a devoted Christian who goes on pilgrimages often. This may make us believe that she is a religious woman, but we later see that her main reason to go on these pilgrimages is not religion. She wants to see the world and that has nothing to do with religion. According to Chaucer, she has visited Rome, Boulogne, St James of Compostella, and Cologne to name a few places where she has been. The fact that she is a devoted traveler suggests that she lives an excessive lifestyle. Not only has she seen many places, she has married five times. A lady that has lived with five husbands tells us she is a woman with lots of experience in love and sex. Chaucer even is possibly portraying the wife of Bath as a gold-digger who is...
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