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

Masculinity In The Wife Of Bath's Prologue And Tale

2391 words - 10 pages

Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

 
   The Wife of Bath, with the energy of her vernacular and the voraciousness of her sexual appetite, is one of the most vividly developed characters of 'The Canterbury Tales'. At 856 lines her prologue, or 'preambulacioun' as the Summoner calls it, is the longest of any of the pilgrims, and matches the General Prologue but for a few lines. Evidently Chaucer is infatuated with Alisoun, as he plays satirically with both gender and class issues through the Wife's robust rhetoric. Scholars and students alike have continued this obsession with her, and as a consequence Chaucer's larger than life widow has been subject to centuries of scrutiny. Indeed, she is in the vast minority amongst the Canterbury bound pilgrims; apart from the in-vogue Prioress she is the only female - though she appears in no way daunted by the apparent inequality in numbers. It seems almost a crime to examine masculinity in her prologue and tale, but as I hope to show, there is much to learn both about the Wife and about Chaucer from this male presence.

 

When we consider that Chaucer chose his pilgrims with careful precision to present a cross section of late-medireview society, the small number of women travellers can be seen as a clear reminder of the patriarchal culture in which the Wife existed. Nevertheless, despite Alisoun's vigorous assault on 'olde and angry nigardes' she is the first to recognise the political ascendancy of men. Her prologue is peppered with allusions to great biblical patriarchs such as Abraham and Jacob:

 

Lo, heere, the wise king, daun Salomon;

I trow he hadde wives mo than oon. (35-36)

 

Here, the Wife makes no attempt to deny Solomon's sovereignty - she even praises him as a 'wise king'; her marital arguments are social and it is for this purpose that she invokes his name. Importantly, Alisoun refers to 'ancient' patriarchs - not only is she prepared to acknowledge the male monopoly on politics, but also the deep rooted nature of their hegemony, a recognition reinforced by the setting of her tale in ³th'olde dayes of the King Arthour². Chaucer has created a woman who in spite of her fierce social ambitions, remains acutely aware of the civil order of her time.

 

Masculinity also manifests itself clearly in the scholasticism to which the Wife continually refers: St. Paul, St. Jerome and Theophrastus. Once again these are historical figures, and though she aims to castrate their learned authority with her own experience, the very fact they are mentioned is an assertion of their erudite dominance. Ironically the bombast theology of such figures is applauded as much as it is assaulted: Ovid's Midas is cited for her own purposes in the tale, while Ptolemy is exalted in the prologue:

 

Of alle men yblessed moot he be,

The wise astrologien, Daun Ptholome... (323-324)

 

Her reference to 'the wise...

Find Another Essay On Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

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

Analysis of the Role of Marriage in Wife of Bath's Tale

1200 words - 5 pages the Wife of Bath's tale that uniquely answer the question of who deserves the mastery in marriage.The Wife of Bath's prologue introduces the pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, a gap toothed, partially deaf seamstress and widower of five husbands, claiming to have great experience in the ways of the heart by remedying whatever might ail it. Alison, unlike the other tales in comparison, describes marriage as "a misery and a woe. (p.258)" The

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

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

BIBLICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL REFERENCES IN THE WIFE OF BATH’S PROLOGUE

1962 words - 8 pages SHREYA CHHETRI120505ENGLISH HONS- 2ND YEARBIBLICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL REFERENCES IN THE WIFE OF BATH'S PROLOGUE Comment by DUndergroundMaN: 6/10Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Taleswas written at the end of the 14th century. It is set up as many stories within a story, the main frame being a group of pilgrims telling stories to each other. At the time he was writing, Chaucer's England was dominated by the Catholic Church. Therefore, many of the

BIBLICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL REFERENCES IN THE WIFE OF BATH’S PROLOGUE

1951 words - 8 pages SHREYA CHHETRI120505ENGLISH HONS- 2ND YEARBIBLICAL AND MYTHOLOGICAL REFERENCES IN THE WIFE OF BATH'S PROLOGUE Comment by DUndergroundMaN: 6/10Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Taleswas written at the end of the 14th century. It is set up as many stories within a story, the main frame being a group of pilgrims telling stories to each other. At the time he was writing, Chaucer's England was dominated by the Catholic Church. Therefore, many of the

The Wife of Bath, The Wife of Bath Prologue, and The General Prologue

1415 words - 6 pages morals and status. Her life is comprised of appealing and manipulating the hearts of men. The additional prologue, The Wife of Bath Prologue, is both lengthy and abound with persuasion. This particular division of the Tale offers a glimpse into the mind of the Wife. In it, she portrays herself as a proud woman, which has used her innumerable supply of husbands as vessels of mere social and financial support. The

Marriage in the Wife of Bath’s and The Knight’s Tale

1350 words - 6 pages . Many women most likely took the Wife of Bath’s tale and prologue as a delusion, seeing that they would never be able to do those kinds of things to husbands of their own. In today’s society, the Wife of Bath‘s story could compare to Hillary Clinton’s views and thoughts on marriage which to others were absurd and foolish. People may say that she failed as a wife, but as a woman, she exceeded everybody’s beliefs by a mile.

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

3010 words - 12 pages powerful and strong-willed gender. In order to defend this argument, the following characters and their tales will be examined: Griselda from the Clerk's Tale, and the Wife of Bath, narrator to the Wife of Bath's Tale. Using the role of gender within the genres of the Canterbury Tales, exploring each woman's participation in the outcomes of their tales, and comparing and contrasting these two heroines, we will find out how Chaucer broke the mold on

Satire of the Knight in the Prologue and Knight's Tale of "The Canterbury Tales"

2367 words - 9 pages more subtly satirized. Chaucer satirizes knights and chivalry in two different ways: in the prologue and in the Knight's Tale. The first way in the prologue is with the pilgrim Knight's character. Chaucer wanted to present a realistic knight, but he also wanted to give the Knight some very real, and obvious flaws, as a sort of social commentary on the way that knight's were perceived in the 14th century. To that end, he gave the Knight

Courtly Love in The Knight’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Tale

1669 words - 7 pages satiric elements and skilled mockery, Chaucer creates a work that not only brought courtly love to the forefront of medieval society but also introduced feministic ideals to the medieval society. At times, Chaucer even makes readers question his beliefs by presenting contrasting elements of principle in The Knight’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Tale, both tales told in his profound, multifaceted The Canterbury Tales. Many tales of courtly love are

Similar Essays

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

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

Beowulf, Sir Gawain, And The Knight In The Wife Of Bath's Tale

1780 words - 7 pages of Christian values and beliefs as opposed to previous pagan ideals; I realized the heroes of each have a few similarities and differences between them despite their differences in origin. All three stories have a male hero who is the focal point of the story and gains worldly knowledge of how to be a true hero: Beowulf, Sir Gawain, and the Knight in the Wife of Bath's Tale all fit into this description. Beowulf comes from a foreign land to

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