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How Does Chaucer Present The Wife Of Bath As A Woman Of Her Time?

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Introduction

How Does Chaucer Present The Wife Of Bath As A Woman Of Her Time? Women were very much perceived as second-class citizens in the fourteenth century, they were rarely educated and had little status in society. As the Wife of Bath's Prologue is spoken by woman of exceeding experience with husbands, with strong opinions on how married life should be conducted, but is written by a man it is natural to look at how Chaucer presents the Wife Of Bath. This is especially so as many of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales condemn themselves out of their own mouth. Are we to agree with the views that the Wife of Bath puts forward so strongly, or does Chaucer present her as a caricature of every negative quality women are traditionally guilty of? A great deal of the Wife's Prologue is spent in her narration of the tirades that she subjected her first three husbands to, largely a list of accusations made by anti-feminists of women, and the Wife's spirited responses. ...read more.

Middle

Chaucer presents the Wife of Bath as wanting control over her husbands as wanting their 'maistrie'. Chaucer also writes that woman 'wol ben at oure large'. By doing this The Wife Of Bath exemplifies many of the negative characteristics attributed to women in the fourteenth century. Women wanting to be in control of everything including their husbands. The language that Chaucer has her speak is not that of right and wrong, it is that of total amorality and self-service. The Wife does not pretend to better behaviour, nor does she accuse anyone else of sinning. The Wife's contradictions are so staggering and frequent: confusing bigamy with remarriage, using God's commandment to "go forth and multiply" although she is childless, and especially, her frank admission that in previous showdowns with her old husbands 'al was false' that she accused them of. Chaucer the Wife of Bath as an appealing and convincing character. ...read more.

Conclusion

But the Wife's understanding of the uses of "auctoritee" is more complex than this analysis allows. Clearly, Chaucer does want us to think about the Wife of Bath as an intriguing character. Her forcefulness is unusual, as are her non-ideal feminine qualities of lechery and unscrupulousness; that is why Chaucer writes about her. The Wife of Bath is, however, a psychological study of a powerful, sexual woman and a speculation on what such a woman's life might be like. It is clearly one that intrigued Chaucer, as can be seen from the length of the prologue, which dwarfs all the others by comparison. Chaucer's aim in writing this prologue appears to have been the presentation of a character so strong; she approached a force of nature, rather than an attack on women and their conduct in married life. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Seager. The Wife Of Bath's Prologue. March 2002 556.doc ...read more.

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