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The Wife Of Bath’s Tale Essay

3009 words - 12 pages

“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a story about a widow who took a pilgrimage to the town of Canterbury with an array of dynamic characters whose diverse backgrounds allowed them to share their stories with one another to make the long journey more interesting. The widow named Alisoun in the “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” told the tale of her experiences with her five past husbands and a story about a knight and a witch. She truly believed that for a woman to have a happy life she would need to gain dominion over a man; however one could assume this was programmed into her by her influential mother and her own religious doctrines. Accordingly, Alisoun argued that the woman must control everything in order to have a happy marriage; however, her life experience and the story she shared should tell her otherwise.
The widow Alisoun was seamstress by trade as well as a liberated older woman of her time in thought and action; for that reason, she traveled unescorted with a caravan of many diverse individuals toward the town of Canterbury. Hallissy submits, “The Wife of Bath’s array is flamboyant for a woman past forty, much less a widow. Her red stockings alone mark her off as improper. Her hat, as big as a shield, her five coverchiefs, her foot mantle about her hips, and her spurs on her feet indicate not only that she is ready for travel but also that she is ready for a new love. Extroverted in manner, assertive in speech, she defies authority by her appearance alone” (103). Each person on the pilgrimage shared a story with the others as a way of making the trip more enjoyable. The person whom had the most interesting tale would receive a complementary dinner at the end of their travel, complements of the host. Alisoun’s contribution to the caravan of travelers was her view of a how a woman is superior to a man and how she was proficient in the matter being that she had been married five times since the age of twelve and was now on the prowl to find her sixth prospective husband. Hallissy proposed, “Finding a sixth husband would give her an opportunity to hone her already substantial skills even further. But by wanting to remarry, the Wife defies the long tradition of the steadfast widow” (110). Alisoun’s words of wisdom regarding marriage and the story of the Knight and the witch justified her belief in terms of dominion over man to be the key toward a happy life with a husband.
Throughout Alisoun’s life, she believed that women had the same rights as a man and that personal happiness did not mean for person to be celibate if not married or to view sexual desires in women as a moral sin. Alisoun’s outlook in life enabled her freedom to marry often and not let society or her husbands dictate whether she was a capable individual without independent value or worth because of her sex; therefore, she married five times in search of the perfect union. The widow Alisoun also believed that because her...

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