Wife of bath, on of Chaucer's wisest characters

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 1996

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The Wife of Bath, in my opinion, is one of Chaucer's wisest characters. I am somewhat surprised that he made up such a character, as he was writing these tales in the early fourteenth century. She took what she did have, which was wit and wisdom, and used it to her advantage. Although she was assumed to be an ugly old woman, she had five husbands all of whom she had mastered only to have them die. She personifies the character that women of her era secretly aspired to, however because of the restrictions imposed upon them by society, they could not be the Wife of Bath.

She is obviously a very strong woman and knows what she wants. 'Experience, though no authority were in this world, were good enough for me, To speak of woe that is in all marriage'(Chaucer, 103) as she states in the introduction to her tale.

She is a self professed authority on the etiquette of marriage. Her extensive knowledge and education on matters of the heart have been acquired through experience, and through the conventional means of learning.

Through her tale she explains herself, in a sense. She speaks of a wise, but ugly old woman. A handsome young knight happens upon the old woman. She asks him what he is seeking. The young knight explains to her that he, as punishment, was sent on a quest to discover what women desire most. The old woman's answer is a simple but costly one. In exchange for her assistance, the old woman demands that he oblige her one request. The knight hastily agrees that he will allow her the request. Thus, she has taken her wisdom and used it to her advantage, much like the Wife of Bath. The tale is filled with similarities between...