Wife of Bath: Prologues vs Tale

Topics: Woman Pages: 3 (983 words) Published: November 13, 2008
The ideas and theories which the Wife of Bath provides in her prologue demonstrate many of the same ideas and theories displayed in her tale. Although in her tale there are a few idealistic changes. In both the prologue and the tale, women start off as empowered beings. At the end of the prologue the Wife of Bath ends up being in a demeaning position yet the end of the tale may be interpreted in two ways.

One of the first points brought up in both the prologue and tale is the idea that sex is meant for reproduction and is used as justification in situations which society frowns upon. In the prologue, the Wife of Bath argues that having five husbands is not wrong because God wants men and women to reproduce. This justifies her being promiscuous, although there is never mention of her actually having children. Her tale begins explaining that in past times when incubi would rape a woman it was more acceptable because they would always get the woman pregnant. During King Arthur’s time however, when a friar would rape a woman it would just cause the woman dishonor and therefore is completely unacceptable. This is why when the Knight, in the Wife of Bath’s tale, rapes a maiden, King Arthur is outraged and wants to decapitate him.

Although the King wants to decapitate the Knight, the King’s wife wants to give the Knight a second chance which the King allows. This displays an idealistic view that the King is obedient to his wife showing that women in the tale are dominant in marriage. The Wife of Bath in her prologue also tries to depict women as being dominant through her explanations of her first three husbands. She claimed to have complete control of her husbands and gained this control through manipulation and sex.

Manipulating men to gain control in a relationship is also a strong theme in both the prologue and tale. The Wife of Bath, in her prologue, not only explains how she uses manipulation to gain control of her husbands but also brags about...
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