Wife Of Bath: Feminist? Essay

812 words - 3 pages

The Wife of Bath is perhaps the most well developed character in the Canterbury Tales. She is a very loud and strongly opinionated character. She freely discusses many topics that were considered taboo for women at the time The Canterbury Tales were written. A great deal is learned about her past life in her prologue, which is unusual in its lengthiness. In her prologue, the Wife of Bath reveals that she has had five husbands, three who were old and rich, and two younger ones. Her first three husbands were kind to her, while the last were wicked. She describes in detail her relationships with her husbands, and how she gained control over each one.The Wife of Bath is very interesting because she appears to be the ideal representation of what the church of Chaucer's time would have considered an evil woman. The Wife is aware that her ideas conflict with the religious doctrines, so from the very beginning she is on the defense, and she mocks the authority of the church by citing scripture to prove her own case. But, sadly, her logic is off, and she selectively chooses scripture that will support her ideas, while ignoring foundational Biblical principles. For example, when she cites the verse in Genesis that tells us to "be fruitful Bolock2 and multiply" (III 28-29) she ignores all of the commands found throughout the entire Bible on purity and chastity. She also quite badly misquotes Ptolemy (lines 188-190). Both of these examples make the Wife of Bath look ignorant, and therefore she is a poor representation of women.Throughout the prologue, Wife of Bath waxes on freely not only about her desire for sex, but more importantly her desire to gain sovereignty over her husbands. Instead of seeking equality in her marriages, she instead strives for power. In both her tale and her prologue she argues that sovereignty over her husband is what any woman wants most in the world. Her tale ends with the knight and his new wife achieving perfect happiness once the wife had gained control. The Wife of Bath claims that this was also the case with all of her marriages.Obviously the Wife of Bath is in favor of women's rights in a marriage, however, I do not think that this qualifies her as a...

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