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 create a story that tries to answer a question that has been on men's minds for centuries, "What do women most desire?"From the very start the Wife of Bath is outspoken. She dares to address the group about virginity and God's laws on the topic. She states:Where can ye saye in any manere ageThat hye God defended mariageBy expres word? I praye you, telleth me.Or where comanded he virginitee?I woot as wel as ye, it is no drede,Th'Apostle, whan he speketh of maidenhede,He saide that precept therof hadde he noon:Men may conseile a womman to be oon,But conseiling nis no comandment.He putte it in oure owene juggement (65-74).She assures the group that nowhere in the Bible does God command virginity until marriage. All God directs is for men to advise women to stay maidens. She goes on to argue that if man were not meant to have sex, God would not have given sex organs to begin with. She uses this reasoning to talk about satisfying her husband's needs:In wifhood wol I use myn instrumentAs freely as my Makere hath it sent.If I be daungerous, God give me sorwe:Myn housbonde shal it han both eve and morwe,Whan that him list come forth and paye his dette.An housbonde wol I have, I wol nat lette,Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral,And have his tribulacion withalUpon his flessh whil that I am his wife (155-163).Perhaps her reasoning about sex and marriage is what lead her to remarrying multiple times. The Wife of Bath has been married five times, each time her husband has died and she remarried shortly thereafter. She knows that in order to be independent, she would have to obtain money, and the only way for her to do this is to become a widow. She mentions that of her five husbands, three of them were good because they were rich and old. The Wife of Bath now appears to be a gold digger of a sort. She then contradicts herself when she talks about how she loved her fifth husband the most even though he was much younger than she was, nearly half her age. Apparently the skittishness of his affection is what drew her closer in to him. What drew him in to her...

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