The Wife Of Bath's Tale Analysis

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For centuries the expectations of women have been to find a husband, get married, and start a family. Although they were written centuries apart, Geoffrey Chaucer’s 1387 story “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” and Lee Smith’s 1982 short story “Dear Phil Donahue” both examine the life of a woman who longs to be heard and how she is affected by her marriage (or marriages). Alison in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” longs for an audience so that she can speak with authority in the male dominated society of 1387 and combat men’s anti-feminist views on marriage. In “Dear Phil Donahue,” Martha Rasnick is a young woman of twenty-eight who feels misunderstood by everyone, including her husband. Out of desperation to be heard, she finds an audience by writing to …show more content…
Martha approaches several people as candidates for an audience: her husband, her friends, and her son, all of whom push her aside. Feeling like no one else will listen, Martha writes a letter to talk show host Phil Donahue and justifies her reasons for writing him saying, “It’s because you talk to me, Phil . . . not only that but you’ve taught me all kinds of things on your show . . . . Another thing I love about you is the way you look everybody in the eye” (118). In this passage, Martha uses language that she never uses when describing her husband, telling Phil that she loves a certain characteristic of his. This passage clearly illustrates how Martha is so desperate for an audience that she forms a false relationship with a television celebrity.
“The Wife of Bath” also addresses the issue of identity in marriage. Rather than become a passive wife, Alison maintains the identity of an outspoken woman:
I was untamable as a
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Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” portrays a woman who longs to share her thoughts concerning women and marriage. In a way, Alison found her identity and purpose through marriage but only because she had limited identities from which to choose. The negative effects of marriage, particularly on the wife, are examined by Lee Smith in her short story “Dear Phil Donahue.” Smith presents a female character who is friendless and has lost sight of who she is apart from her husband and her tasks as a wife. These two literary works demonstrate how women are impacted differently by marriage, the various ways that they cope with this union, and the internal struggles that they

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