Instead of being a revolutionary female figure with feminist intentions, she merely seeks husbands who will provide for her in exchange for sexual favors. For the Wife of Bath, money, sex, and marriage are all interlinked and none can exist without the other. While this may at first seem to be a case of a medieval woman exerting her independence, the only true power she possesses is that of her sexuality—something that she has realizes is fading with her youth. This is far from a feminist ideal of a solid marriage and is much more closely aligned with ages-old misogynistic stereotypes of bad women.
The Wife of Bath begins her lengthy prologue by announcing that she has always followed the rule of experience rather than authority. Having already had five husbands "at the church door," she has experience enough to make her an expert. She sees nothing wrong with having had five husbands and cannot understand Jesus' rebuke to the woman at the well who also had five husbands.
Instead, she prefers the biblical command to go forth and multiply. To defend her position, the Wife refers to King Solomon, who had many wives, and to St. Paul's admonishment that it is better to marry than to burn. Having shown a knowledge of the Bible, she challenges anyone to show her that God commanded virginity.
Furthermore, sexual organs are made both for functional purposes and for pleasure. And unlike many cold women, she has always been willing to have sex whenever her man wants to. The Wife of Bath then relates tales about her former husbands and reveals how she was able to gain the upper hand "sovereignty" over them.
Unfortunately, just at the time she gains complete mastery over one of her husbands, he dies. Then she explains how she gained control over her fifth husband. At her fourth husband's funeral, she could hardly keep her eyes off a young clerk named Jankyn, whom she had already admired.
At the month's end, she and Jankyn were married, even though she was twice his age. As soon as the honeymoon was over, she was disturbed to find that Jankyn spent all his time reading, especially from a collection of books that disparaged women.
One night, he began to read aloud from this collection, beginning with the story of Eve, and he read about all the unfaithful women, murderesses, prostitutes, and so on, that he could find. Unable to tolerate these stories any longer, the Wife of Bath grabbed the book and hit Jankyn so hard that he fell over backwards into the fire.
He jumped up and hit her with his fist. She fell to the floor and pretended to be dead. When he bent over her, she hit him once more and again pretended to die. He was so upset that he promised her anything if she would live.
And this is how she gained "sovereignty" over her fifth husband. From that day until the day he died, she was a true and faithful wife for him. Her tale, which follows, reiterates her belief that a happy match is one in which the wife has control. A lusty young knight in King Arthur's court rapes a beautiful young maiden.
The people are repulsed by the knight's behavior and demand justice. Although the law demands that the knight be beheaded, the queen and ladies of the court beg to be allowed to determine the knight's fate.
The queen then gives the knight a year to discover what women most desire. The year passes quickly. As the knight rides dejectedly back to the court knowing that he will lose his life, he suddenly sees 24 young maidens dancing and singing. As he approaches them, the maidens disappear, and the only living creature is a foul old woman, who approaches him and asks what he seeks.
The knight explains his quest, and the old woman promises him the right answer if he will do what she demands for saving his life. When the queen bids the knight to speak, he responds correctly that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands.
Having supplied him with the right answer, the old crone demands that she be his wife and his love. The knight, in agony, agrees.
On their wedding night, the knight pays no attention to the foul woman next to him. When she questions him, he confesses that her age, ugliness, and low breeding are repulsive to him. The old hag reminds him that true gentility is not a matter of appearances but of virtue.
She tells him that her looks can be viewed as an asset. If she were beautiful, many men would be after her; in her present state, however, he can be assured that he has a virtuous wife.
She offers him a choice:Character Analysis The Wife of Bath Bookmark this page Manage My Reading List First of all, the Wife is the forerunner of the modern liberated woman, and she is the prototype of a certain female figure that often appears in later literature. The Wife of Bath's Tale tells a story from a distant time, when King Arthur ruled the nation and when elves used to run around impregnating women.
However, the Wife immediately digresses: now friars have taken the place of elves - they are now the copulating, evil spirits. The Wife of Bath begins her lengthy prologue by announcing that she has always followed the rule of experience rather than authority.
Having already had five husbands "at the church door," she has experience enough to make her an expert. The Wife of Bath: A Literary Analysis Essay Words 5 Pages Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is an important part of his most famed work, The Canterbury Tales.
Character Analysis. In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Chaucer opens with a description of twenty-nine people who are going on a pilgrimage. Each person has a distinct personality that we can recognize from the way people behave today. He purposely makes The Wife of Bath stand out more compared to the other characters.
The Wife of Bath’s Tale Fragment 3, lines – Summary: The Wife of Bath’s Tale. In the days of King Arthur, the Wife of Bath begins, the isle of Britain was full of fairies and elves.