The Wife Of Bath Feminist Analysis

1143 Words 5 Pages
The Wife of Bath is a counter to the antifeminist tradition. In the sense of countering something, she goes against what antifeminists would predict. Antifeminists would view women as powerless, submissive, and inferior. However, The Wife acts quite the opposite. The Wife “prompts misogynist notions: is masculinity any less and femininity any more a characteristic of females than of males?” (Oberembt 290). During the Middle Ages, there was an omnipresence of misogyny and anti-feminist bias. Many of the women were seen as lustful, dishonest to themselves and their husbands, and were after essentially on the prowl for wealth. The Wife of Bath was no exception. Through adultery, deceit, and sex, The Wife of Bath persuaded her husbands to acknowledge …show more content…
One way in which she does so is by acknowledging adultery outright. She would scheme for a new potential husband and “[tell] him that if [she] were a widow he should marry [her]” (Chaucer 567-568). The Wife defends herself for having been married five times and for having a lusty nature. While still married, she admitted that she made arrangements for a fifth spouse in the event of her fourth husband’s death. Openly, she addresses her five marriages, knowing that it is frowned upon by society to have been married that many times. She confidently justifies that “never yet in [her] life has [she] heard [a] number defined” (Chaucer 24-25). She alleged that all of her marriages were legal and recognized by the Church. The Wife challenges anyone to show her where in the Scripture anyone sets a limit to the number of legal marriages a person can have. Instead of conforming to the views or standards set before her, she stands her ground and tries to set a new standard herself. Her standard is one in which tears apart the anti-feminist tradition by embracing her non-traditional ways and convinces women to not conform to the judgments of society. In her eyes, because she has lots of experience with marriage, she is an authority on it. Her tactics were certainly uncharitable. She would also accuse her husbands of cheating in order to make herself feel better about her own unfaithful actions. “[She] would accuse them about wenches when they were so sick they could hardly stand. Yet it tickled a husband’s heart, since he thought [she] showed such great fondness for him. [She] swore that all [her] walking out by night was to spy out the wenches he lay with; under this pretense [she] had many a merry time” (Chaucer 393-399). The Wife of Bath, through trickery and deceit, later took this lying even

Related Documents