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The Wife Of Bath: How Being Married Five Times Gives Wisdom

977 words - 4 pages

The Wife of Bath’s Tale is among the best known of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It provides insight of women roles in the later Middle ages, and the Wife of Bath opinion on marriage. Though some question and disapprove of her multiple marriages, the Wife of Bath speaks about marriage and how being married five times gave her wisdom and gifts. She openly speaks about the subject of marriage and sex. By this creating insight for readers on the most important issue in marriages: behavior in marriage, female dominance, and equality.
Many have question her numerous amount of marriages saying that “Christ went only once to a wedding, in Cana of Galilee, by that same example he taught me that I should be wedded only once”(22). But the Wife of Bath wants to know how many could she have in marriage? Never have she heard a certain number to marry, and how men interrupt the bible falsely. Nor does the Wife of Bath find it important to remain a virgin. She says "He spoke this to those people who wished to be perfect; and by your leave, gentle people, I am not one of those. I will use the flower of my life in the acts and fruits of marriage” (114). She uses her sexual powers as an “instrument” to control her husbands, thus, she refuses to submit to the stereotypical ways, and she creates a new platform for a woman that makes women roles significant in the Middle Ages.
Next, the Wife of Bath speaks about her five husbands. Of that five, three were good to her and the other two were bad. She openly admits how she treated the three husbands who were rich and old with dominance. She says” I would accuse my old husband of visiting prostitutes, even when they were so sick that they could scarcely stand” with that she would leave her husband’s with grief, and ultimately they would give her anything she wants (394). Also, she would punish her husband’s by not giving them full satisfaction of pleasures, which they would have to pay her to get satisfaction. The Wife of Bath verbal skills and sexual power brought her husband’s to their submissive form. And of the five, the fifth husband she loved the most. She met the fifth husband while she was married to her fourth husband, that she told she could marry him if she were a widow. When her fourth husband dies, Jankin becomes her fifth husband.
Manipulation did not work on Jankin like it did for the other previous marriages, mostly because of the age difference. Since in the past relationship she abused her husband’s, “He spoke more evil than a heart can devise” and now the abuse is coming back to her (773). She retains a deep fondness for the one man she could not control. One day she gets...

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