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Monday, July 11, 2011

Canterbury Tales; The Wife of Bath

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Geoffry Chaucer was bron in London, 140. In approximately 180, Chaucer was accused and charged with the rape of Cecily Champaigne. An honourable character as Chaucer would not have been guilty of such an accusation. However, in contrast to the definition of rape today, during Chaucers time it meant the abduction of a woman rather than her assault. Chaucer was released of all charges and it is the possible that this incident is the idea behind the Wife of Baths Tale.


The Wife of Bath is a stern, independent woman who is candid in her words and forthright in speaking her mind. Her strenght of character serves as a threat to both men and women alike, as she is an intimidating force. Although she may be in an inferior class to some of the other pilgrims, Chaucer portrays her as sensible and eloquent. She obtains independence through her weaving business, which allows her the ability to pursue her sexual desires.


Se is an experienced woman with excess husbands. She builds a case for herself marrying five times by putting forth the observation of where did Christ specify the amount of times one could or should marry. She is a professional wife and will accept no superior. She claims to have extraced the best from her husbands and is the personification of experience.


Her husbands fall into two categories. The first being rich, old and unable to abide to her sexual demands. This was the portrait of her first three husbands; wealthy, old and jealous. She disciplined them by accusing of promiscuous behaviour. Her rejection from the forth husband, prompted her to ake revenge by allowing him to fry in his own grease. Feeling it was a waste to bury him expensively, she revenged herself by burying him cheaply, thus giving her the upper hand again. Her fifth husband, who she married for love, beat her after she tore out pages from his Book of Wicked Wives. She pretended to be dead, filling Jankins with so much guilt that he threw his entire book into the fire. This gave her control for the remainder of the marraige.


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The Wife of Baths Tale tells of a womans desire to have authority over men. Her tale could be classified as a romance around the question, what women desire most. The setting of her tale is established in a mere 0 lines. Contained in these lines is the introduction to the knight and we are told of the rape and the death sentence and the postponment for a year, to allow the knight time to find the answer to the question what wommen moost desiren?


At the point of giving up, the knight encounters an old, ugly woman who reveals to him the answer in return he marries her. His life is spared with his answer, women most desire to have sovereignity over their husbands. We then here a lenghty discussion between the knight and his new wife on their wedding knight. He complains of her hideousness. She gives him the choice of her being ugly and faithful or beautiful and unchaste. He grants her the sovereignity to choose which transforms her into a beautiful maiden, taking the form of the courtly wife. The result of the knights selfessness and putting his wife before him, is the ideal marraige.


The theme is that of the ideal marraige. Conventionally, a man should surrender all to his partner and become her creator. This is what Jankins does and what the knight does. The Wife of Baths Tale is one of the pursuit of power and who has the sovereignity in any relationship. The Wife has a clear passion for authority and craves being the dominant force over her husband.


To conclude, the Wife of Bath pursues what every woman craves in relationships; power. Due to this need and lust for sovereignity, she becomes envious of the hag in her tale, wishing to have the power that she has. She wishes to be given the control and power from her partner to make the decisions and not to have them taken away from her.


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