Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - Dominance and Control in the Wife of Bath

:: 2 Works Cited
Length: 1340 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Purple      
Open Document

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

Dominance and Control in Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale

   The Wife of Bath, the main character in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale" recognizes dominance over her husband as the main purpose of her life and her story.


      The Wife of Bath is a controlling and headstrong woman.  She craves dominance over her husbands.  She believes that, in order to be her husband, the man must be subservient and that she is the head of the household.  Even thought she has been married five times, she has never let the man hold the upper hand.  Out of the five, "three were good husbands, two of them were bad" (Chaucer 224).  She was first married at the age of twelve and is now forty years old.  To be married at such a young age, one can only imagine that the marriage was either arranged for money or for a title.  The Wife of Bath recognizes that the key to survival for a fourteenth century woman is marriage, as shown in her having had five husbands and being married at the age of twelve.  The Wife of Bath is also not what a wife should be.  She torments her husbands by denying them sex until she gets what she wants, which is land and money.  When she does sleep with them, it always means "nothing," but for the older husbands it means their lives (Chaucer 224).  The Wife of Bath, in her mind, has the right to deny sex because it is she who hold the "'power of his body' not he" (Chaucer 223).  She even proudly admits that she had married men for their money and driven them to their end by her desire for sex.  She prays for Jesus to send men "who are meek and young and spirited in bed" (Chaucer 250).  The Wife of Bath will stop at nothing to get what she wants because dominance is what she lives for.



... middle of paper ... Chaucer does not believe that it is right for the Wife of Bath to use her sexuality as a tool to get what she wants.  He recognizes there are other options of gaining power because he has the hag use her intelligence to gain control over the Knight.  Feminine wiles are expected of women, just as men play their own games.  "The Wife of Bath's Tale" is a humorous and ironic tale.  The Knight supplies this irony and the Wife of Bath supplies the humor be gaining control of men half her age.  The dominance and control that the Wife of Bath strives for is the theme of her life and of Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale."


Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey.  "The Prologue of the Wife of Bath's Tale."  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Plucknett, Theodore F.T.  A Concise History of the Common Law, 5th Ed.  London: Butterworth, 1956.   

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  
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]
The Wife of Bath Essay - Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is the story of a large group of men and women going to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. Each of the travellers introduces themselves and tells an interesting tale during their journey. One of the travellers, the Wife of Bath shares her views on social relationships between men and women. The fourteenth century is viewed as having a patriarchal dominated society. However, the Wife of Bath, Alisoun, is a strong believer in female maistrie, control in the marriage....   [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays] 1316 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay - The Powerful Wife of Bath - The Powerful Wife of Bath       In Geoffrey Chacer's The Canterbury Tales we are introduced to 29 people who are going on a pilgrimage to St. Thomas a Becket in Canterbury. Each person is represented to fit a unique type of behavior as shown by people during the medieval ages.  My attention was drawn to the Wife of Bath through which Chaucer notes the gender inequalities.  Predominantly, women could either choose to marry and become a childbearing wife or go into a religious order.  Women were seen as property.  Women during this period of time, had limited choices when it came to societal roles.  The Wife of Bath exonerates the accepted roles of society, reflecting wo...   [tags: Wife of Bath Essays]
:: 3 Works Cited
1106 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Wife of Bath Essay - The institution of marriage has always been viewed as a lifetime bond which should never be broken. In addition, there are certain general vows that each party usually takes- to be faithful, obedient, and loving. For years, this verbal agreement was enough to keep even the toughest of marriages together for a long time. Enter the Wife of Bath, the polar opposite of the medieval woman. She was loud, brash, and deceitful- making her seem like the least likely person to get married. However, she ends up marrying five men....   [tags: The Wife of Bath Essays] 1309 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Geoffrey Chaucer's Caterbury Tales Essay examples - The Canterbury Tales are a series of tales written, by Geoffrey Chaucer, about the journeys of pilgrims to Canterbury. Geoffrey Chaucer did not begin writing these tales until he was in his late forties and due to his late arrival with this piece, Chaucer died before he could complete these epic tales (Librarius). Within these many tales Chaucer wrote one in particular tale of a character named the Wife of Bath. He also characterized her with a prologue and wrote a tale from her point of view....   [tags: The Wife of Bath]
:: 5 Works Cited
743 words
(2.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about The Wife of Bath by Geoffery Chaucer - The Wife of Bath The Wife of Bath, or Alison, is a worldly woman. Not only has she traveled the world, she has experienced the world, in the sexual manner. Alison herself states this at the beginning of her tale, “Were there no books at all on the subject, my own experience gives me a perfect right to talk of the sorrows of marriage . . . I’ve married five husbands . . . .”(Chaucer 174). The point of Alison’s long-winded prologue is to crush the idea that men have a hierarchy of dominance over women....   [tags: essays research papers] 1014 words
(2.9 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
Essay on Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales - Perceptions of Marriage in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales       Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage.  Some of these ideas are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin's Tale, and others are more liberal such as the marriages portrayed in the Miller's and the Wife of Bath's Tales.  While several of these tales are rather comical, they do indeed give us a representation of the attitudes toward marriage at that time in history....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays Chaucer Papers]
:: 3 Works Cited
1430 words
(4.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales Essay - The Wife of Bath is a strong character whom is set apart from many traditional notions. As an independently traveling woman who has not only her own means but also her own out-spoken opinions, the Wife of Bath represents a creature that many assume was rather rare in the 14th and 15th centuries. With her unusual social views and her lengthy and questionable marital history, the Wife of Bath unashamedly sets herself opposed to many centuries of well-entrenched ideologies and as well as some of the other Pilgrims....   [tags: women's rights, power, dominance]
:: 3 Works Cited
775 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale - Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale      The Wife of Bath, with the energy of her vernacular and the voraciousness of her sexual appetite, is one of the most vividly developed characters of 'The Canterbury Tales'. At 856 lines her prologue, or 'preambulacioun' as the Summoner calls it, is the longest of any of the pilgrims, and matches the General Prologue but for a few lines. Evidently Chaucer is infatuated with Alisoun, as he plays satirically with both gender and class issues through the Wife's robust rhetoric....   [tags: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales]
:: 6 Works Cited
2166 words
(6.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Chaucer - Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage. Some of these ideas are more liberal thought such as the marriages portrayed in the Wife of Bath, the Clerk’s and Merchant’s Tales. Then there are those tales that are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin's and the Squire’s tales. And lastly there is a tales of that of the Friar and the Summoner which aren’t really involved with marriage but are in the middle of the marriage group to show the fighting between two men and to prove the Wife of bath right....   [tags: essays research papers] 2642 words
(7.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]