Preview
Preview

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - The Wife of Bath and the Ideal Woman

:: 6 Works Cited
Length: 2672 words (7.6 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Wife of Bath and the Ideal Woman

 
  The Wife of Bath is one of Chaucer's most memorable characters. In the "General Prologue," she is described as a somewhat deaf, voluptuous, married woman. She is a clothing maker, has a gap tooth, the sign of a lust nature, and she wears brilliant red stockings. Her fantastic description alone sparks interest, a spark that is later fanned into fire when her prologue is read. The Wife's outlandish description of her marriages makes her unique and memorable among the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, most of which are identified by conventional occupation. Chaucer has deliberately made the Wife a notable character by giving her life many unconventional twists. Her marriages are contradictory, and her personality is at odds with the medieval view of women Chaucer creates her in order to show that this woman, however rare and unique she is, cannot openly struggle for equality and independence. Her prologue gives the reader the notion that, when Alison is talking about herself, "It's a bit like an anti-confession, with her saying this is what I'm like, there's no way I'm going to change (Beer 8). This is her initial portrayal, but at the end of her prologue, the Wife of Bath succumbs to the pressure of society, conforms and becomes the ideal medieval wife.

 

The Wife's marriages, when viewed in order, show her struggle for power and her surrender to authority. In the first few lines the reader learns that Alison was married five times. Her five husbands represent the progression of a woman from a power-hungry girl to a submissive spouse. Her five husbands can be divided into two groups, the first group consisting of the Wife's first three husbands. Of this first group she says, "Th...


... middle of paper ...


... Mark. "The Wife of Bath and Women's Power." Assays 4 (1987): 67-83.

Bott, Robin. "The Wife of Bath and the Revelour: Power Struggles and Failure in a Marriage of Peers." Medieval Perspectives 6 (1991): 154-161.

Carruthers, Mary. "The Wife of Bath and the Painting of Lions." PMLA 94 (1979): 209-18.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. Ed. Larry Benson. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton, 1987.

Crane, Susan. "Alison's Incapacity and Poetic Instability in the Wife of Bath's Tale." MLA 102 (1987): 20-27.

Leicester, Jr., H. Marshall. "Of a fire in the dark: Public and Private Feminism in the Wife of Bath's Tale." Women's Studies 11.1-2 (1985): 157-78.

Oberembt, Kenneth. "Chaucer's Anti-Misogynist Wife of Bath." The Chaucer Review 10 (1976): 287-302.

Patterson, Lee. Chaucer and the Subject of History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Essay about Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath - Everyone has a story. Certainly Chaucer believes so as he weaves together tales of twenty nine different people on their common journey to Canterbury. Through their time on the road, these characters explore the diverse lives of those traveling together, narrated by the host of the group. Each character in the ensemble is entitled to a prologue, explaining his or her life and the reasons for the tale, as well as the actual story, meant to have moral implications or simply to entertain. One narrative in particular, that of the Wife of Bath, serves both purposes: to teach and to amuse....   [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
831 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath Essay - Chaucer's Wife of Bath is the most fully and vividly realized of the characters in The Canterbury Tales and her lengthy Prologue and brief Tale have a force and vitality that derive from the perfect integration of character and message. The Wife's account of her own life and her tale are both, seemingly, directed toward establishing the principle that happiness in marriage results from the woman's "mastery" over her husband. Nearly everything she says runs counter to theological authority, ecclesiastical preaching, and conventional social notions regarding the relations between men and women....   [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
1795 words
(5.1 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - Character Analysis of The Wife of Bath of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales is Geoffrey Chaucer's greatest and most memorable work. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses "a fictitious pilgrimage [to Canterbury] as a framing device for a number of stories" (Norton 79). In "The General Prologue" of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer describes in detail the pilgrims he meets in the inn on their way to Canterbury. Chaucer is the author, but also a character and the narrator, and acts like a reporter to provide a detailed description of the pilgrims....   [tags: Chaucer The Wife of Bath]
:: 5 Works Cited
1636 words
(4.7 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Incredible Wife of Bath's Tale - Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - The Incredible Wife of Bath's Tale       In reading Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," I found that of the Wife of Bath, including her prologue, to be the most thought-provoking. The pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, is a gap-toothed, partially deaf seamstress and widow who has been married five times.  She claims to have great experience in the ways of the heart, having a remedy for whatever might ail it. Throughout her story, I was shocked, yet pleased to encounter details which were rather uncharacteristic of the women of Chaucer's time.  It is these peculiarities of Alison's tale which I will examine, looking not only at the ch...   [tags: Wife of Bath Essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
1057 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Ideal Women vs Real Women in Beowulf and The Wife of Bath Essay - In the Middle Age literature, women are often presented or meant to come off as an unimportant character; which can also reflect on how the author wants the women character represent. Women are usually shunned, have no say or control in what they do; due to what men desire; like Ophelia and Gertrude did in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. But these female characters that I will discuss are women with power, control, and a voice. Majority of the female character’s appearances are made to represent wickedness, evil, or a seducer who challenges a man belief; and does not symbolize perfect women....   [tags: Beowulf, Wife of Bath]
:: 2 Works Cited
1489 words
(4.3 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Chaucer's View of Women Exposed in The Canterbury Tales Essay - Often, the most memorable female characters are those who break out of the stereotypical “good wife” mold. When an author uses this technique effectively, the woman often carries the story. In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, he portrays the Wife of Bath, Alison, as a woman who bucks the tradition of her times with her brashness and desire for control. Chaucer effectively presents a woman's point of view and evokes some sympathy for her. In the author's time, much of the literature was devoted to validating the frailties of women....   [tags: Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath] 788 words
(2.3 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Chaucer's Portrayal Of Women in Canterbury Tales Essay - All through Canterbury Tales, women are dealt with as objects in everyday life. In the “Miller’s Tale,” an old man marries a younger, attractive women for her looks. In the “Wife of Bath’s Tale,” a virgin woman has her virginity and innocence taken from her by what is suppose to be a noble and honorable knight and when his punishment is later to marry an older, less attractive women, all respect for his newly wife vanishes. A woman’s level of recognition in Canterbury Tales are through her class in society, whether she is young and beautiful, or old and disgusting, and her degree of experience in life....   [tags: Women, Canterbury Tales, gender, Geoffrey Chaucer,] 902 words
(2.6 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady - Chaucer's Views on Women: Griselda and the Wife of Bath's the Loathly Lady As a man fascinated with the role of women during the 14th Century, or most commonly known as the Middle Ages, Chaucer makes conclusive evaluations and remarks concerning how women were viewed during this time period. Determined to show that women were not weak and humble because of the male dominance surrounding them, Chaucer sets out to prove that women were a powerful and strong-willed gender. In order to defend this argument, the following characters and their tales will be examined: Griselda from the Clerk's Tale, and the Wife of Bath, narrator to the Wife of Bath's Tale....   [tags: European Literature Chaucer Essays Papers]
:: 7 Works Cited
3022 words
(8.6 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Women and Love In Chaucer Essay - Women and Love In Chaucer      Chaucer's opinion of women and his views on love are very prominently featured in his poetry. Focusing on women, one must first examine the popular views concerning women during Chaucer's time. Arlyn Diamond writes of Chaucer that, ". . . he accepts uneasily the medieval view of women as either better or worse than men, but never quite the same." (Green 3) This is evident in Chaucer's portrayal of women in such poems as "The Wife of Bath" and "The Clerk's Tale" which assault the reader with antithetical views of women....   [tags: Chaucer Poetry Poem Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
2000 words
(5.7 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Essay on No Apologies for The Wife of Bath -      In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the author portrays the Wife of Bath, Alison, as a woman who bucks the tradition of her times with her brashness and desire for control. Chaucer is able to present a strong woman's point of view and to evoke some sympathy for her.   In the author's time, much of the literature was devoted to validating the frailties of women.  However, in this story, the Wife is a woman who has outlived four of five husbands for "of five housbodes scoleying" (Chaucer 50) is she....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer]
:: 3 Works Cited
849 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]