Wife Of Bath: Canterbury Tales

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade September 2001

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Wife of Bath The Canterbury Tales are grouped in ways constitute debates or topical subjects or to achieve effects of contrast. On the way from London to Canterbury, the pilgrims told tales to pass the time.

Chaucer found himself in the company of the pilgrims with the tales they told. This pilgrimage brought together a diverse group of people. Chaucer shows that there is more than one way to tell your story, and that style should be appropriate to subject. Chaucer himself is one of the pilgrims. He instills judgments, frequently misleading, on the quality of the stories, and telling his own first attempted tale. Many people are familiar with the tales as Chaucer wrote them, but scholars thought up different modern paraphrases of these pilgrims and spent their time writing about their views. The Wife of Bath is one example of a pilgrim whose ideas can be compared and contrasted by these scholars.

The Wife is unusual in that her prologue is longer than her tale and is the longest prologue Chaucer gives to any storyteller. The wife is a predecessor of the modern liberated woman. By challenging the value of virginity, the Wife of Bath, calls into question both secular and religious ideals of women. She announces her theme as "marriage is a misery and a woe," but the theme she actually develops in both the prologue and the tale is "sovereignty in marriage." While apparently attempting to assert female dominance over men, the effect the Wife desires is to bring men and women to a more balanced level of power. She states that double standards for women and men are too common and are deeply rooted in culture. Her prologue presents a view of marriage that no pilgrim had ever conceived of and is followed by a...

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