Wife Of Bath's Tale Analysis

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Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales serves as a striking social commentary on the class system, religious life, and gender roles of Medieval society. Through the Prioress’ Tale, he criticizes the anti-Semitism and narcissism of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, the Wife of Bath’s Tale acts as a strong commentary on the role of women in society. Because of Christianity’s influence on society, anyone who fell outside the Renaissance man category tended to fall by the wayside. Chaucer’s depiction of Medieval women in the prologue alone speaks volumes about how women were treated in Medieval society. Out of all thirty pilgrims in the travel party, only two women are given a voice throughout the whole journey, and the way that he describes them shows that …show more content…
It is a tongue-in-cheek lesson on male fragility and the radical notion that women should be equal to their husbands. The tale begins with the knight asserting his dominance over a young maiden by raping her, but when that same dominance is forced upon him, he cannot fathom it and refuses to marry the old woman because he has learned that a woman’s deepest desire is to be on the same status level as her husband. The knight wants to “leave his body free” (287) because he cannot stand the idea of not being in complete control of a woman. He refuses to accept the truth that he has learned and refers to the old woman as “his damnation” (287). He ends up having to marry the old woman instead, and is forced to live life the way that most married Medieval women did, thereby “getting a taste of his own medicine.” Chaucer also alludes to the overall complexity of women and aims to teach the reader that women are much more than just dainty, polite beings who are too overcome by emotion to function properly in day-to-day life. The character of the old woman is complex, cunning, and incredibly intelligent. She uses her wit to trick the knight into marrying her and gives him the choice between marrying a wife who is “old and ugly till [she dies], but still a loyal, true, and humble wife,” or a wife who is “young and pretty,” but sexually free, asserting that he will not want to …show more content…
The Wife of Bath is a sexually free, liberated, and strong woman that would make the holiest Christian nun squirm with disgust for her utter disdain for the word of God and Christian teaching. Chaucer introduces her as a character in order to attempt to bring to light the idea of a radical female and challenge the stereotype of the dominant, submissive woman of the time. She challenges the Catholic Church’s idea that “virginity is indeed a great perfection” by saying that reproductive organs were created for “both use and pleasure in / engendering, except in case of sin” (261-262). She manipulates her husbands in the same way that men of the time tended to try to manipulate their wives. She fully embraces masculinity and takes on the role of the “dominant husband” using her wits to constantly make herself look like the victim, when she, in fact, is the perpetrator. The second that she finds out her fourth husband is cheating on her, she cooks up a plan to “fry him in his own grease / of jealousy and rage.” (271) She thoroughly enjoys challenging the men in her life and everything they stand for, bravely standing up to her husband Johnny’s repeated abuse and ripping the pages out of his book and thus

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