THE WIFE OF BATH
In the “Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” she begins her introduction by telling the other pilgrims that she has experience because she has been married five time. She believes more in experience rather than in written authority (that is , in texts written by men). The Wife of Bath argues with virginity: “Where can ye saye in any manere age that hye God defended mariage by expres word? I praye you, telleth me. Or Where comanded he virginitee?” [Norton,118] She asks where in the bible is virginity commanded? If God condemned virginity, there would be no children, and no population: “For hadde God comanded maidenhede, Thanne hadde he dampned wedding with the deede; And certes, if there were no seed ysowe, Virginitee, thanne wherof sholde it growe?” [Norton,118] She then says how she is not jealous of virgin women, and how she always has her man in her bed. The Pardoner, hearing this, interrupts her in disgust and tells her how he has been thinking about marriage but now is glad that he is a single guy.
The Wife of Bath then tells the other pilgrims what has happened to her five husbands. She says, “Tho housbonds that I hadde, As three of hem were goode, and two were badde. The three men were goode, and riche, and olde”[Norton,121]. In other words, the first three husbands were good to her; they were old and had money to take care of her. The fourth husband she had no control over. He was a reveler who loved to party. The Wife of Bath has a problem with him because he has a mistress. To get even with him, she tries to make him jealous. She torments him so much in life that she prays he is now in heaven. “The fifth husband she truly loved but there was one problem; he was abusive”[Norton,128]. The Wife of Bath says he is the reason she is deaf in one ear.
As we can see, the Wife of Bath has many experiences in her life. It is strange to me to see how a woman of the fourteenth century was able to act the way she did. Back then, women had no rights; they had arranged marriages; and they could not say anything about it. Men were superior and dominated women. The way the Wife of Bath acted in the fourteenth century is more the way the women act today in the twentieth century
Women of the twentieth century are very different from their fourteenth century counterparts. The fourteenth century women were primarily housewives. They stayed home and took care of the children and the house. They had the responsibility of raising the children, cleaning, cooking and working. The women also took care of the farm. Essentially, the woman worked and lived as a slave. Woman...