READ THE PROLOGUE “THE WIFE OF BATH” AND ANSWER THE QUESTIONS SUPPORTING THEM WITH THE TEXTS.
1-Choose two biblical examples from the text in the Prologue and examine how the Wife has used / interpreted / challenged these extracts from the Bible. (2, 5)
A: People use to criticize the Wife´s marriages, because according Bible, everybody just could marry once and she had married five times. However, there are same extracts from the Bible that the Wife use in her favour and with it, she makes smarts interpretations. Firstly, she starts to question one passage of the Bible that a man spoke against her, where Christ said to Samaritan: “Thou hast y-had five husbandes and that now hath thee is not thine husband.” So, the Wife uses the “gaps” between the words of Jesus and says: “How many might she have in marriage? Yet herd I never tellen in mine age upon this number diffinicioum.” Here, she just shows a good speech because she uses what He did not say to she argues in her favour. Other passage of the Bible that the Wife of bath uses to defend her ideals is about what the apostle Paul said in the Bible: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” (1Cor 7:8). The Wife uses the words “It is good” to say that Paul did not command, he only advised: “ Men, may counsel a woman to oon, but concealing is no commandent. He put it in our owne judgement.” With this statement then she could marry as many times as she want: “So is it no repreve to wedde me if that my make die, without excepcioun of bigamye.” We can conclude from these brief passages, as the Wife of Bath is eloquent and persuasive with her words. She knows perfectly well how to use the linguistic elements to defend his ideals and thus defend her lifestyle.
2-The comedy and humour in the Prologue work to lighten the tone of the Wife`s attack on authority. What examples can you find of incidents, rhyming, or situations which create comic effects? (2,5)
A: The humour could be: a social corrective, an opportunity for subversion and a safety valve, because hostility or sexuality, for example, is better diffused in a joke. The interpretation is different for readers and listeners depending on their beliefs and values. Rhyming: magic “fayeryes” and mundane “dayeryes” (I.872-3); “desyren” and “yren” (I.905-6), execution of ironaxe for failure; “auctoritee” and “me” (I.1-2), the opposition between the Wife and text. “me” is a short word, but the full force of the “me” became apparent. At (I.193) The Wife offers a view of the text as an entertainment, because she knows about her audience. If we accept her point of view, the text is not a caricature, it can be enjoyable for everybody. We can see irony at “wo that is in mariage” (I.3), her intention to discuss this topic. On (I.173) she claims to have been an expert in the tribulation of marriage”, has been unwittingly ironic, and on (I.193 on the old husbands), This text, from the ironical view, could be a caricature type, about dominating. The wife believes that she is explaining the suffering of other wives in a patriarchal marriage, the author shows the opposite. It is funny, and it is doubly ironic in that the Wife reveal the “wo that is in marriage” where the partners unequal. She is as free with her speech as she is with her sexuality, but she reveals to be “indiscreet” and a gossiping woman.
3-Do you agree with the statement that “The Wife`s of Bath Tale may also be read as The Politics of the Vagina?” Justify your answer. (2,5)
A: The Wife of Bath was written about 1387 A.D. when culture and values were totally Christian and this way the culture was male chauvinism. It does not mean that nowadays our culture is not more Christian or male chauvinism, but before time it was more effective and oppressive. This tale is more modern and audacious than its time (Christian and male chauvinism) because the Wife has strongly feminist and advanced attitudes for her time. She claims a right to marry how many times she wants and she claims that nobody recriminates her attitudes, besides this, she advises women to dominate their husbands and she talks about freedom to take pleasure in sex. The Wife of Bath can be considerate as “The Politics of the Vagina” for these reasons, but among them, the main reason is the superiority of women established by Wife. She believes that women should to “command” their husbands (through the prologue): “ I governed hem so well after my lawe that ech of hem full blissful was and fawe to bring me gaye thinges fro the faire...Ye wise wives that can understande: Thus shold ye speke and bere hem wrong on hande..” And finally, in the tale she reaffirms this women´s authority when an old woman decides dilemma of her young husband: “Than have I get of you maistry”, quod she, “Sin I may chees and govern as me lest?” “Ye, certes, wife,” quod he, “I hold it best.” Front these issues, we can realize how they are current nowadays: sexual freedom of women, the fight against gender discrimination and só on. The Wife of Bath was written centuries ago, but it has issues that nowadays are still not solved.
4-Can “The Wife of Bath” be considered an allegorical character? If so, what kind of allegory does she represent? Develop your answer with textual arguments. To help you, relate The Wife of Bath with the morality play of “Every man”. (2,5)
A: Certainly yes. Allegorical character is to do satire. It has a moral purpose. It shows up through wit and caricature, it is not a comedy or attack on abuses. This kind ok literature has didactic purposes. I could say that allegory is a tale that speaks on two levels. It tells the obvious story and the subliminal message or theme that the author tries to impart. As example from the text, two characters represents groups there was much satirezed in the Middle Age: Wife and Pardoner. The first is anti-feminist satires, shows her as disobedient, too talkative, gossiping, lustful and even evil. It is like to say to men, avoid marriage to this “kind” of women. The second character, satires against the clergy, focused on financial abuses of the Church. These stories as The Wife of Bath, is like examples, and they have special meaning, tales illustrating moral points. At lines (11-13) “to weddying, in the cane of galilee”. At the wedding, Jesus, prompted by his mother, turned water into wine to satisfy the wedding party. The Wife relates the authority comment on this passage, which is not logical. Christ performed a miracle, but is do not proof if He approved or not more than one marriage. On line (33) “bigamy / octagmye”, the Wife means second or eigthth marriages in sucession, not at same time, how it really means. The wife even asserts her own values about virginity debate. At lines (I.79-94) “I woot wel”, she argues here that it is good for a man not to touch a woman, but to avoid fornication it is better the couple to get marriage. On lines (I.87-9) “to touche, /…in his bed”, Wife makes allusion about sex and is familiar with the ease which passion ignites, using the analogy of fire. The last example, lines (119-123) “glose whoso wole” The wife is making fun of clerics who tie in theological knots and have to ignore their sexuality. “Everyman” as “The Wife of Bath” is a morality story/play. The moralities were a late medieval genre which were encouraged by the church, or civil authorities, and taught moral values through amusing dramatic actions. Therefore their characters are allegorical, teaches about the human condition. The subject of “Everyman” is saving a human soul, which forces Good and Evil being engaged in a struggle for the soul of an individual. Morality plays spoke to medieval man`s anxiety like death or dying well, in “Everyman” and also about a women who marriage five times and was absolutely updated for her time in “The Wife of Bath”.
http://www.dle.ufms.br/daniel/literature/Os_Contos_de_Cantuaria.pdf http://www.enotes.com/topics/wife-baths-tale/critical-essays http://jawanza.hubpages.com/hub/The-Wife-of-Baths-Tale-The-Politics-of-the-Vagina http://www.shmoop.com/