The Wife of Bath and her tale are the most similar out of all the tales because they both share a domineering outlook over others. In the general prologue she is told to have had five husbands and is described as a looker, “Her face was bold and handsome and ruddy,” (Chaucer 39). In her prologue she goes more in depth of her time spent with her five husbands. Wife of Bath talks most about how she gains control over her husbands. For instance, her fifth husband was the controlling force in their marriage until he made the mistake of hitting her and telling her he would do anything to keep her with him and said, “My own true wife, do as you wish for the rest of your life…” (335). Next, her tale. Her tale starts with a man deflowering a woman
While the main character of The Wife Of Bath’s Tale began with little respect or understanding of women, after undergoing a long journey and learning valuable lessons, he seemed to better understand women, and give them equal respect. Several events from the story in particular triggered this change in the Knight: his initial punishment, reaction to the old woman’s request, and his decision on their wedding night.
Both the Wife of Bath’s tale and Sir Gawain have trials assigned to their main characters by women. The knight in Wife of Bath’s tale is being punished for raping a young woman and his punishment is to find an answer to the question, “what do women want most?” instead of death. He learns that women want sovereignty, but in return for obtaining his answer he needs to marry the hag that provided him with the answer. The hag later transforms into a beautiful woman once she wins over the right to choose and rule at her own will. This tale is based on the Celtic Sovereignty myth about a king marrying a goddess who initially appeared to be hideous, but with the willing kiss from the king, turned into a beautiful woman. In Sir Gawain, the knight is being tested to see if he will choose virtue and chastity or the beauty and promiscuity of the Lady of the Castle.
A story that reflects a timeless issue of equality, morals, and lesson on what women really desire. The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer is a story in The Canterbury Tales that expresses multiple moral lessons and an exciting dialogue that provides an entertaining story. The two stories that will be examined today are the “Pardoners Tale” and “The Wife of Bath”, after much evaluation I believe that “The Wife of Bath” is the better story. This is the better story because it’s more entertaining and also has more morals with better quality.
The Wife of Bath: An Analysis of Her Life and Her Tale The Wife of Bath’s Prologue stays consistent with the facts that experience is better than the societal norms, specifically those instilled by the church leadership. Chaucer uses the Wife of Bath to display the insanity of the church, but through switching and amplifying their view of men and chastity onto the opposite gender. The church doctrine at the time held celibacy in an idolized manner, forgetting the inability for humans to ever reach perfection, or live up to this standard. They also did not hold women in a high regard at all, again this is where Chaucer flips the role, as the Wife of Bath describes her five marriages in her prologue, essentially describing each as a conquest, where the result is her having all control.
“Seeing is not always believing.” -Martin Luther King Jr. ("Seeing"). In life, what people see is not always what they get. Appearances can be deceiving and keeping up with expectations does not always occur. Topics like these can consistently be seen throughout “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, Chaucer uses irony to teach characters that appearance can be deceiving as well as knowing that there is more value to a person than just physical qualities.
For instance, it is one of the only tales that revolves around men. There is mentioning of women, but as Kruger explains it, "... women are evoked only to be excluded" (129). The absence of women suggests infertility, and thus, projects literary barrenness. Moreover, Kruger believes that the relationship between the three men is a parody of the sworn brotherhood and heterosexual love triangles found in the Knight's Tale, which also disturbs the heterosexual model of writing. Chaucer, with this tale, intended to show the dangers of the attachment to the physical and the disregard for spiritual, allegorical interpretation.
In the pardoner's tales, the moral is how greed can destroy people. Whereas the moral in “The Wife of Bath Tale” applies to rape. In “The Pardoner's Tale”, Chaucer explains,“ No longer was it death those fellows sought, For they were so thrilled to see the sight, the gold was so beautiful and bright” (171-174). “And with that poison he could kill his friends. To men in such a state the Devil sends Thoughts of this kind, and has a full permission To lure them on to sorrow and perdition; For this young man was utterly content To kill them both and never to repent” (246-251).
After reading the prologue of the Wife of Bath’s Tale, it didn’t greatly astonished me. I don’t pictured women in the Middle Ages as second class citizens. In my opinion, they had more rights in Europe than they would in the Middle East or Africa today. If their husbands died, the wives were able to owe the land; the oldest child, despite being male or female, would inherit from their father; and can receive high positions (of course, not as high as the men). The most famous of all women in the Middle Ages is Eleanor of Aquitaine and Joan of Arc. I understand once women were married, they had to be subordinate to their husbands, but it was generally expected that they work alongside their husbands in their business. And once monasteries were
“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” begins with an unequivocal incident of sexual assault, yet how that assault and the question of consent are interpreted are complicated in light of Suzanne Edwards’ essay, “The Rhetoric of Rape.” Edwards’ essay provides a new historicist lens to provide a context in which the reader can perhaps reconcile the problematic nature of sexual assault that Chaucer inserts into the “loathly lady” narrative. The rhetoric employed by the law in regards to rape complicates Chaucer’s knight’s crime by creating an atmosphere of ambiguity that raises more questions than answers. The disconnect that occurs between the rapist and his victim seems quite abominable on the part of Chaucer and his narrator in that it is quickly forgiven
What do women yearn for most? At times, most women cannot answer this ancient question. A substantial amount of women prefer money, never ending youth, to be wed, to be widowed, to be respected, or to be pampered; the list is infinite. In The Wife of Bath’s Tale, King Arthur’s knight rapes a young maiden; the punishment at this time was beheading. Yet, the King allowed the Queen to choose the consequences that the knight will suffer. The Queen instructs the knight to answer the question: “What is the thing that most of all women desire? (Martin, 2006)” or he will be beheaded. The knight agrees and is given one year and a day to embark on his quest for what women long for most.
Beowulf and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” are both narratives in which gender acts as an important theme within their individual communities; both have underlying meanings when it comes to defining what the role men and women in a good community should be. Or in other words, both stories paint a vivid picture of the role of women during the medieval time period, by suggesting that one gender had more power over another. However, these two narratives take alternative paths when expressing their views; Beowulf conveys its message through what is missing, while “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” incorporates satire and uses explicit narrative when telling the experience of a woman that is highly different from other women in her time. Furthermore, another difference that is appealing to the reader’s eyes, besides the way the two narratives reflect to women’s role in medieval times, is that men become the hero in Beowulf, while “the wife”, so a woman, becomes the authority figure in the story of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” I want to first introduce the two main differences between the two narratives and then I will explain how regardless of the differences, both of these narratives’ main goal is to show that women had less power and a good community back that time was male dominated.