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Characteristics of Wife of Bath Essay

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In The Canterbury Tales, many characters are not what they seem. Chaucer gives in-depth descriptions in the general prologue of all the characters and how they live their lives, from the knight, to the Wife of Bath, to the host. These people all have back stories and distinctive personality traits that distinguish them from the other characters. The Wife of Bath is a worldly woman and Chaucer describes her as “An estimable woman: she had five husbands, not to mention other company in her youth” (Chaucer 9). The Wife of Bath is a character that knows what she wants and exactly how to get it. The Wife of Bath’s tale matches her personality and Wife of Bath and the old woman in the tale share similar traits.
In the general prologue, Chaucer explains the Wife of Bath’s characteristics. He says, “She knew how to laugh and joke in company, and all the remedies of love, for her skill was great in that old game” (Chaucer 10). This particular description of the Wife of Bath shows that she knows, or thinks she knows, a lot about love. Although Chaucer uses “knew” in the quote, it does not mean that the Wife of Bath is the expert on love. Her marriages were shams and she only loved her fifth husband, who happened to beat her. She is not really an expert at love at all, more of an enthusiast. She likes the idea of being in love and being able to control the men she marries. She cannot control all of the men she marries, but she tries with all her being. The first three were simple to have power over, but the last two were a little more challenging.
In the Wife of Bath’s tale’s prologue, the Wife of Bath is talking to the party and says, “Just as worms destroy a tree, you say, so a wife destroys her husbands, and any man tied to a wife know...


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...is day and age both of these women would be very good leaders because they know what they want and how to get it. They would be able to be leaders of companies or even the president. In their time, they were supposed to take orders from men and do what they were told without objections. These two women did not feel that was how women should behave and did all they could do act otherwise. They did what they could to wrestle power from the men and be on top and in the lead. Chaucer knew how to give life to these women and was smart for making them the wearer of the pants, because not many people saw it that way back then. These women are the embodiment of “strong, independent women” and could make any man do what she wishes in a blink of an eye.



Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. R.M. Lumiansky. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1948. Print.


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