Ideas of Feminism and the Wife of Bath

Essay by boogerboy999Junior High, 9th gradeA, August 2008

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

Women are only good for three things: cooking, cleaning, and having babies. This is and has been a common misconception about women throughout history. In the famous medieval literary work, “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath gives readers a glimpse of a woman who was the total opposite of what men expected their women to be. She was married five times, used sex as a control option, and did whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. She was also somewhat educated, a very rare quality in a woman of that time. It is interesting to see what feminist traits the Wife of Bath exhibits and how she defies the expectations of men and biblical law in “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue.”The Wife of Bath is probably the most colorful character in the Canterbury Tales. She is opinionated, stubborn, and loud, and conducts a continuous struggle against the vilification of women.

She begins her prologue by bragging about her experiences in marriage. She has been married five times already and she happily ignores that this is against biblical law and Christian ideals. The Wife of Bath is well educated in the biblical texts and those who use the religious texts to make a case for the obedience of women are the most eager targets of ridicule for the Wife of Bath. In reference to her multiple marriages, she gives the example of wise King Solomon, who had many wives and concubines, and tells the others that she will “welcome the sixte, whan that evere he shal” (45).

In the Wife of Bath’s Prologue, the wife, or Alison, discusses matrimony, virginity, and sovereignty. In the prologue, she refers several times to the control that women should have over their men, a definite feminist idea. Alison feels that...