The Wife of Bath’s Tale
History of Classic English Literature
Canterbury Tales Paper
In the tale of Wife of Bath, Chaucer has well depicted the role of women in the middle age period. This poem was instructive and pleasing because although most women were viewed and treated as objects rather than being respected by men, Chaucer shows another viewpoint through the Wife of Bath, a feminist view that was seldom seen during the time. The Wife of Bath is unlike any other female character during the medieval period and what made the story even more entertaining was her character. By examining the prologue and the story, the Wife of Bath displays many interesting characteristics such as her pride and confidence, experience and attitude, and wisdom that make the story both pleasing and enlightening. The prologue of the Wife of Bath starts off with an introduction similar to that of an autobiography. She retells of her marriages with the five husbands and then quotes the bible to justify her five marriages. Despite the society viewing her marriages as a disgrace, she is unconcerned and does not see anything the matter with her actions. Instead she is proud and even states that God wants humans to increase and multiply, demanding proof of God commanding virginity. The humor of it all is that she is so confident as to proclaim, “In whyfhode I wol use myn instrument as frely as my maker hath it sent.” She does shy away from matters such as sex and she boldly declares whatever she wants to say, which has to be the biggest difference between the Wife of Bath and other women of the middle ages. Whereas the Wife of Bath is bold and daring, the other wives are conservative and traditional. The Wife of Bath’s confidence can also be seen in how she ‘handles’ her five husbands. She is confident in winning their love as she states that she did not need to make any effort or pay them any respect because she has governance over them. The contrast between the Wife of...
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