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Does the Wife make a good case for marriage in the first section of the Prologue?

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Introduction

Does the Wife make a good case for marriage in the first section of the Prologue? The Wife of Bath is quite a complex woman who had very strong opinions on marriage. She feels that she is a good woman to marry as she has been married five times and so has plenty of experience. Her case is argued using her own personal experience vs. auctoritee (written authority). She uses Biblical precedent to help explain herself clearly, and often abuses what the Bible says and teaches in support of her own case. The Wife begins the Prologue stating that she is going to speak of, "the wo that is in marriage." This instantly alerts us to her obvious feelings on the subject, she does not like marriage and has not had very good experiences of it, or so it seems. ...read more.

Middle

She begins with Solomon, "Salomon: I trowe he hadde wives mo than oon." Using this example, the Wife thinks she has biblical support for her marriages. The church taught that you should only marry once and that if you are widowed you should remain in this state. This is something that the Wife strongly disagrees with, and by using Solomon, a great biblical king who had more than one wife she feels she is justifying herself. However here the wife is simply bringing Solomon down to her own level as use for justifying herself, rather than raising herself to him. The Wife uses Abraham and Jacob in similar ways to Solomon. They were both great biblical holy men, and as she states, "ech of hem bade wives mo than two." ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though this biblical knowledge does portray the image that she is full of knowledge, for those who also know a lot about the Bible she may appear foolish and weak. She is not strong enough to take on board everything that the Bible says and produce an argument from that, instead she, in a undoubtedly clever way, makes it as easy for herself as possible. In this instance she is not making a good case for marriage, as she has not proven anything. Another biblical figure the Wife quotes from is St. Paul. Here she argues against the viewpoint that it is better to remain a virgin than to get married at all. St. Paul's advice is simply that, advice, and he has no authority from God, therefore, "He putte it in oure owene juggement." The decision had been left up to us. ...read more.

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