The Character Of The Wife Of Bath

1521 words - 6 pages

The Character of the Wife of Bath The Wife in the Wife Of Bath's Prologue, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, is a paradoxical character. The descriptions of this Wife in the General Prologue, and also in her own prologue and tale, paint a predicament for Chaucer's audience. It is not clear what Chaucer's aim is when he invents the character of the Wife. His use of humor, and irony in the story makes it hard to condemn the Wife for her opinions and lifestyle. Yet the time period in which these tales takes place offers its own judgments of the Wife of Bath. Despite her wit, and her strong contentions, the Wife of Bath is a manipulative and clever character that knows how to survive in this time period. In the passages from lines 531-590, it is easy to get the impression that the Wife of Bath is a ruthless and somewhat sinister character. Keeping in mind that our narrator is rather soft hearted and passive, much of what is being told may not be the whole story. Certain passages that emerge from these lines show that certain statements that the Wife makes have clouded meanings and shady undertones. Questions that enter the mind of the reader are not necessary entering the mind of the narrator, and he appears to report her prologue without investigating her insinuations. This passage begins with the introduction to her fifth husband. She explains that ascertain, also because of its appearance in other passages, that this Wife usually marries Gallup 2 she married her fifth husband out of love and not for his money. Immediately we can men for their money. Also early on in the passage the Wife hints at her relationship to religion. She mentions that she has a very close friend whom she tells more secrets to than to her priest at confession. Interestingly in another section of her prologue this Wife stands behind certain religious doctrine in order to defend her lifestyle, yet she is not totally honest with her priest. Also she feels she can tell her close friends and niece of these secrets. She feels secure enough to pass these secrets onto her female friends, but cannot tell her priest. Are the three women that the Wife confides in supposed to be juxtaposed to the Holy Trinity? Perhaps this is a hint at her inward feelings toward men. Further remarks about her actions during Lent are significant to her actual devotion. Lent is a time to practice moderation and self-deprivation of pleasure. She feels as though Lent is a free time for her, since her husband stays away from home, and she goes about as she wishes. She describes walking in the fields with this Clerk whom she fancied to marry her someday. She flirted with him to the point of telling him she wished she were a widow so he could marry her. In this passage the Wife admits using manipulation and making false statements to trick this Clerk. What is insinuated is that the Clerk may have possibly...

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