This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

An Analysis Of Chaucer's "The Wife Of Bath's Tale"

962 words - 4 pages

In reading Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales,' I foundthat of the Wife of Bath, including her prologue, to be the mostthought-provoking. The pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, isa gap-toothed, partially deaf seamstress and widow who has beenmarried five times. She claims to have great experience in theways of the heart, having a remedy for whatever might ail it.Throughout her story, I was shocked, yet pleased to encounterdetails which were rather uncharacteristic of the women ofChaucer's time. It is these peculiarities of Alison's tale whichI will examine, looking not only at the chivalric and religiousinfluences of this medieval period, but also at how she wouldhave been viewed in the context of this society and by Chaucerhimself.During the period in which Chaucer wrote, there was a dualconcept of chivalry, one facet being based in reality and theother existing mainly in the imagination only. On the one hand,there was the medieval notion we are most familiar with today inwhich the knight was the consummate righteous man, willing tosacrifice self for the worthy cause of the afflicted and weak; onthe other, we have the sad truth that the human knight rarelylived up to this ideal(Patterson 170). In a work by MurielBowden, Associate Professor of English at Hunter College, sheexplains that the knights of the Middle Ages were 'merely mountedsoldiers, . . . notorious' for their utter cruelty(18). The taleBath's Wife weaves exposes that Chaucer was aware of both formsof the medieval soldier. Where as his knowledge that knightswere often far from perfect is evidenced in the beginning ofAlison's tale where the 'lusty' soldier rapes a young maiden;King Arthur, whom the ladies of the country beseech to spare thelife of the guilty horse soldier, offers us the typicalconception of knighthood.In addition to acknowledging this dichotomy of ideas aboutchivalry, Chaucer also brings into question the religious viewsof his time through this tale. The loquacious Alison spends agood deal of the prologue espousing her views regarding marriageand virginity, using her knowledge of the scriptures to addstrength to her arguments. For instance, she argues that thereis nothing wrong with her having had five husbands, pointing outthat Solomon had hundreds of wives. In another debate, she arguesthat despite the teaching of the Church that virginity is 'agreater good than the most virtuous of marriages,' there is nobiblical comment opposing marriage(Bowden 77). Even though theseideas may not seem so radical to today's reader, they would havebeen considered blasphemy to people of Chaucer's time (Howard143).The tale itself raises another religious discussion of thetime: Who should have the upper hand within a marriage? KingArthur gives the task of sentencing the nefarious knight to hiswife, who proposes that his life will be spared if he can findthe answer to the question: 'What thing is it that wommen mostdesiren?' Following a fruitless search for the answer, theknight...

Find Another Essay On An Analysis of Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale"

Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady

3010 words - 12 pages the mold on femininity by centralizing the power of women: they have the power to either to destroy or to save, and they have the right to speak for the rights of others against violent acts, proving that the female gender is a force to be reckoned with. References Carter, Susan. (2003). Coupling the Beastly Bride and the Hunter Hunted: What Lies Behind Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale. Chaucer Review, (pgs 329-345) Evans, Ruth & Johnson

Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale

1780 words - 7 pages Green Knight, comes to understand that “the truth shall set him free.” Sir Gawain is a prime example follows the romantic, Christian hero's journey. By the time in which The Canterbury Tales are set, Christianity has reached a strong and supreme place in the world and the hero's journey has become set in our current reality where personal honor is supreme. The Knight in The Wife of Bath's Tale has a very real personality and exists in an

Canterbury Tales - Comparing Chaucer's The Clerks Tale and The Wife of Bath Tale

2207 words - 9 pages In "The Clerk's Tale" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale " from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, characters are demanding, powerful and manipulating in order to gain obedience from others. From all of The Canterbury Tales, "The Clerks Tale" and "The Wife of Baths Tale" are the two most similar tales. These tales relate to each other in the terms of obedience and the treatment of women. "The Wife of Bath

In what light does Chaucer represent marriage in THe CAnterbury Tales? (MErchants, millers, wife of BAth's tale)

2150 words - 9 pages In what light does Chaucer represent marriage in The Canterbury Tales? Refer to at least three tales in your answer.I am going to write about the subject of marriage in the Wife of Bath's Tale; the Merchant's Tale and The Miller's Tale.I will begin with the Wife of Bath's Tale. The title in itself is important, as Chaucer does not use her job title but her marital identity. This is perhaps the first clue about the subject of the tale (and indeed

Chaucer's Wife of Bath: How does the introduction of the Wife of Bath compare to her self description and tale?

961 words - 4 pages Ahead of Her TimeThe Wife of Bath is perhaps not an attractive woman, but she is well informed in the world of men. She has gone through a sexual revolution by herself and is not afraid to proclaim it to others. By no means does she abide by the standards set for a woman in her time. She preaches to the others about virginity and marriage, not only in her life, but in the world in general. Due to her futuristic view of life, she is able to

Mixed Feminine Message in Wife of Bath's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

1750 words - 7 pages Mixed Feminine Message in Wife of Bath's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer In the Wife of Bath’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer, various women, such as the Queen and the old hag, stake their claim to authority over men. Yet, they do so in a very covert manner. The knight has clearly abused his male power. He is a rapist. With the help of women, however, he is rehabilitated and seems to achieve the ultimate happiness. When these women support the

Struggle For Female Equality in Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

1539 words - 6 pages Struggle For Female Equality in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale  When Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, the social structure of his world was changing rapidly.  Chaucer himself was a prime example of new social mobility being granted to members of the emerging middle class.  He had opportunities to come into contact not only with earthy characters from varied ports of call, but with the wealthy nobility.  He was also married to a

An Analysis of The Wife Of Bath’s Tale

1058 words - 4 pages The Wife Of Bath’s Tale is a magnificent story, that relates and under covers what every women wants, and what every man dreads. This tale is very unique concerning how rebellious it was to the views of the time period it was written in and even in the values that are set in stone today. Chaucer did an excellent job of expressing his outward views towards the subject of how women should be treated. The story starts off with a Knight who has

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Wife of Bath

1379 words - 6 pages that she was a woman who couldn’t find true love. Works Cited W.W.Norton and Company. The Norton Anthology World Literature. Ed. Peter Simon. new york: W.W. Norton and Company, 2013. Brewer, Gwen W. "What Women Want: The Wife of Bath and the Modern Woman." Human Quest Jul 2001: 3. ProQuest. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. Arnell, Carla. "Chaucer's Wife of Bath and John Fowles's Quaker Maid: tale-telling and the trial of personal experience and written authority." The Modern Language Review 102.4 (2007): 933+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath

1066 words - 4 pages moral implications or simply to entertain. One narrative in particular, that of the Wife of Bath, serves both purposes: to teach and to amuse. She renounces the submissive roles of a woman and reveals the moral to her story while portraying women as sex seeking, powerful creatures, an amusing thought indeed. Through her didactic discourse and witty tale, the other travelers, as well as the reader, discover more about women than they have from any

Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

1603 words - 6 pages Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales is Geoffrey Chaucer's greatest and most memorable work. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses "a fictitious pilgrimage [to Canterbury] as a framing device for a number of stories" (Norton 79). In "The General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes in detail the pilgrims he meets in the inn on their way to Canterbury. Chaucer is the author

Similar Essays

Analysis Of The Role Of Marriage In Wife Of Bath's Tale

1200 words - 5 pages Wife of Bath's tale sets itself apart by presenting a woman who, although rather typical in this day and age, is unconventional and uncharacteristic of the women of Chaucer's time. Chaucer develops this especially in the language used by Alison, blending language that often contains sexual connotations, perhaps even saying it in a lady-like manner, feeding into her views that women "however vicious [we] may be within [we] like to be thought wise

The Canterbury Tales Essay : The Wife Of Bath's Tale

1861 words - 7 pages Bath's prologue" goes into the woes of marriage from the wife's view. The wife in her prologue says "Of tribulacioun in marriage, Of which I am expert in all mine age" (Line 179-180). She is speaking to the Pardoner who interrupted her prologue to mention that he was thinking of getting married, but now is having second thoughts. She assures him that her tale has not begun, but she will tell him of all the tribulations of marriage. She goes on

Masculinity In The Wife Of Bath's Prologue And Tale

2391 words - 10 pages in the Wife of Bath's Tale." MLA 102 (1987): 20-27. Leicester, Jr., H. Marshall. "Of a fire in the dark: Public and Private Feminism in the Wife of Bath's Tale." Women's Studies 11.1-2 (1985): 157-78. Oberembt, Kenneth. "Chaucer's Anti-Misogynist Wife of Bath." The Chaucer Review 10 (1976): 287-302.

A Simple Summary And Analysis Of The Wife Of Bath's Prologue And Tale

913 words - 4 pages answer and receives many: riches, prettiness, flattery, and fame. None of these is the answer to his question. Women also wanted the capability to conceal. The Wife tells a tale about some ears. What was the purpose of including that tale? Did it have something to do with the Wife, since she loss her hearing?16.The knight finds his answer in a forest. He was going to ask these 24 ladies, but somehow the vanished when he approached them. Instead, an