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Published: 25-09-2019

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The Analysis of the Wife of Bath

The Wife of Bath is usually regarded as an early feminist, but by reading her prologue and tale one particular can easily see that this is not accurate. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the Wife of Bath believes that a wife ought to have authority and control over her husband. The Wife’s tips had been indisputably uncommon for her time period and she shocked her audience with her radical opinions, but probably that was her intention. A single should also note that the Wife of Bath did possess weaknesses towards males in spite of her air of self-confidence, and it is likely that her outspokenness is a sort of defense mechanism. Considering that feminism traditionally denotes a belief in equality between the sexes, it is straightforward to see that the Wife does not assistance feminism but alternatively the manipulation of males for her own advantage.

Both the Wife of Bath’s prologue and tale illustrate her belief that men need to permit themselves to “be ruled by their wives” (176) and the Wife, or Dame Alice, repeatedly emphasizes that she has no issue physically and psychologically abusing her husbands. The wife’s very first 3 husbands had been old and rich, easy tools. Her fourth husband was like the wife’s male counterpart – promiscuous and stubborn as nicely – but he did died swiftly. The wife was unfazed by her fourth husband’s death and already had a fifth husband lined up. Her fifth husband was the cruelest and most tough for her to tame, and ironically her favorite of them all. Of course, she sooner or later had her way with all of them. A widow 5 instances over, the wife openly admits that she “put [her husbands] to function in such a fashion” (157) that they cried out in exhaustion and frustration. She also boasts about her skill in manipulating her past husbands, particularly the old, wealthy ones. The Wife would tell lies to her husbands, producing them consider that she had heard gossip about an unfaithful act they committed, when in reality she was only attempting to “put them in the wrong” (157). Soon after producing him really feel completely guilty, she could then sleep around with no fear of interrogation from her husband.

It is most likely that a wonderful deal of the Wife’s apparent impudence is only an attempt to jar her audience. Ahead of the Wife of Bath starts her tale, the Friar claims that he hopes “to have joy and salvation” (168) from the story she will tell and, as if in protest, the Wife begins by making entertaining of friars. Dame Alice sets the scene by describing a land that utilized to be inhabited by fairies, but is now filled with friars that “can only do a [lady] physical dishonor” (170). When, in her prologue, the Wife claims that her fifth husband was a lot happier after she “had gained the upper hand” (168), the reader have to wonder how much of her guidance is exaggeration or lies.

More than all, the Wife of Bath provides the impression of becoming a strong and frequently audacious lady, but Chaucer does not portray her without a weakness. In her prologue, the Wife sorrowfully acknowledges that “age, alas, which poisons everything, has robbed [her]” (162) of her beauty and youthfulness. This, of course, does not cease her from marrying once again and once more – she even marries a twenty-year-old at the age of forty. In the end, the Wife of Bath is attempting to mask her insecurity regarding her failing beauty, which has been her principal indicates of controlling males and as a result of getting a energy in society generally not enjoyed by females.

The Wife of Bath’s tale illustrates her want for youth as properly. The tale is suggestive of a fairy tale, but does not correctly comply with a fairy tale format. Her tale characteristics a young man that is imprisoned for rape. The truth that the protagonist is a rapist is reminiscent of the Wife’s abusive, younger husbands. The knight is ordered by the queen to learn what it is that girls want most, but he can not uncover out. Fortunately – or probably unfortunately – he finds an old lady in a clearing that promises to inform him the answer if he will do the subsequent point she requests of him. Wanting to save his personal life, he agrees but then is obligated to marry the ugly old woman when she asks it of him. The old woman has magical powers and asks the young knight if he would choose a stunning, promiscuous wife or an ugly, faithful wife. When he answers that “whatever [she] likes suits [him]” (176) ideal, she is magically transformed into a stunning, young girl. This clearly illustrates the wife’s notion that every little thing will turn out for the best if the woman is provided power instead of the man in a marriage. The transformation also exposes the Wife’s longing to have her youth restored just as the old lady in the story did.

Readers need to take the Wife of Bath with her strengths and her weaknesses. Unlike most of the characters in The Canterbury Tales, the Wife is neither satirized nor idealized – she is simply developed to engage and intrigue readers. Her character traits are extreme, and it is even hard to inform what Chaucer’s view of the Wife is. She is written as a headstrong and opinionated woman, but her failing beauty and cruelty towards men indicates that she was by no means an idealized character. Though unfair towards guys, the Wife of Bath knows how to push people’s buttons and get what she desires.
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