A Dissertation On The Wife Of Bath

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One of the most self-contradictory periods in Western history was the Middle Ages. The people, despite being trodden by the hooves of dearth, plague, and war, however managed to bring forth wonders of Western civilization that we still look upon with amazement today. When the Black Death was at its pinnacle and the Great Schism

weakened the Catholic Church? s one time absolute power, Geoffrey Chaucer composed one of the first works in common English that is non merely interesting to read, but enlightening about the predicament of humanity during the Late Middle Ages. Chaucer? s Canterbury Tales is a paradox in itself because although the chief characters are spiritual pilgrims, the narratives each portion frequently integrated secular subjects. Although Canterbury Tales is an unfinished work, in what he completed Chaucer non merely introduces the reader

to myriad complex characters, but flaunts his endowment of negative capableness, despite leting his ain prejudices to ooze into their fabrications at times. One of the most outstanding characters Chaucer created, the rambunctious Wife of Bath, is a rich tapestry of a lady who is at the same time a distinguishable person and an original of middle-aged adult females.

Through Chaucer? s word picture of the Wife of Bath, the reader can clearly

granary some of the assorted conflicting attitudes toward adult females prevalent during the Middle Ages.

Contrary to what was usually written about adult females in mediaeval times & # 8211 ; when they were even mentioned at all & # 8211 ; Chaucer? s Wife of Bath is portrayed as a radically resolute adult female who is frequently refigured in modern readings as a? feminist icon? ( Sussman ) . She is wise non through pedants, but from her many experiences:

Experience, though no authorization

Were in this universe, were good plenty for me.

She is besides really cunning and resourceful, and considers these traits integral to the

use of work forces:

Deceit, crying, and whirling, does God give

To adult females, of course, the piece they live.

And therefore of one thing I speak vauntingly,

I got the best of each one, eventually,

By fast one, or force, or by some sort of thing.

Constantly fighting against the mediaeval construct of female gender, peculiarly that of the submissive virgin who finds no pleasance in bodily concerns, the Wife of Bath challenges those who reprimand her by asseverating, ? God bade us to increase

and multiply. ? In rebuttal to the rigorous spiritual bids of monogamousness and celibacy, she cites the actions of Solomon:

Lo, there? s the wise old male monarch Dan Solomon

I understand he had more married womans than one

And now would God it were permitted me

To be refreshed one half every bit frequently as he!

She has human demands and desires, given to her by God, and she feels no demand to be ashamed of them:

State me besides, to what aim or stop

The genitalias were made, that I defend,

And for what benefit was adult male foremost wrought?

Trust you right good, they were non made for nothing.

She besides readily refutes the instructions of the Bible, claiming that those who write the texts and scorn adult females are those who have non had contact with them. These really instructions are what incited her to rupture a page out of her 5th hubby? s book, and by making so

subjected herself to a whipping so terrible she became deaf in one ear. Equally manipulative as she is, nevertheless, she uses this to her advantage to ladle her piquing hubby Wisconsin

Thursday guilt

and asseverate her control over him.

The Wife of Bath besides believes in adult female? s potency to be powerful. She

believes, in fact, that the adult female should hold absolute authorization non merely over herself, but over her family and her hubby every bit good. This can be concluded from the reply in

the Wife of Bath & # 8217 ; s narrative to the Queen? s inquiry: What is it that a adult female most desires?

Harmonizing to the Wife, it is sovereignty over her hubby. It is rather apparent from her narrative that she is talking for herself, for her narrative is a? theoretical account illustration of her theories?

( Moore ) . It is merely natural for a individual to state a narrative that is an fable uncovering his ain beliefs ; it is in this manner Chaucer efficaciously and systematically characterizes the Wife of Bath, thereby doing her one of the most to the full developed characters out of her fellow pilgrims.

Despite the many strong positive features of the Wife of Bath, she still has some really noticeable defects, through which Chaucer voices some of his negative sentiments of adult females. Adorned in pretentious vesture of? fyn vermilion reed? , she gives the

feeling of being pretentious and ready to flash her additions from her asleep hubbies ( Moore ) . She uses matrimony as a manner accumulate worldly wealth:

But since I had them entirely in my manus,

And since to me they? d given all their land,

Why should I take attentiveness, so, that I should delight,

Salvage it were for my net income or my easiness?

This perpetuates the stereotype that adult females are covetous and willing to give their unity to get married for the attainment of wealths. Furthermore, the quotation mark, ? Deceit, crying,

and spinning, does God give/ To adult females, of course, the piece they live? , implies that all adult females are of course dishonorable, and had this quotation mark emanated from a adult male, one can be certain the Wife of Bath would hold objected! In add-on, although Chaucer makes her

liberated sexually, the Wife of Bath appears to be a nymphomaniac who equates lust with love and bears the malformation of her overtly amative life style & # 8211 ; her being gap-toothed. Sexual activity, as unluckily perceived by the Wife, is both a arm and a agency to carry through a fleeting worldly desire, instead than a greater bond of love and spiritualty between two people. Such a position of sex indicates the state of affairs in which the Wife of Bath most likely entered matrimony: a immature miss, betrothed to a adult male so far removed from her by age and

experience that they ne’er reach an edifying apprehension of each other, defines the Acts of the Apostless of? love? physically instead than emotionally and spiritually.

Prior to when Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, the thought of a adult female being strong, sharp, and rather able to keep her ain against any adult male was likely radical to a choice few, but to the general populace, absurd. By manufacturing such a character, nevertheless, Chaucer set away into a new district where adult females could be compared as

people with work forces, covering their strengths and failings onto the tabular array unrepentantly. Even though the Wife of Bath? s strings are being manipulated by a adult male, she is still an undoubtedly credible character, full of as many defects and contradictions as existent people

are even today.

Plants Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Selected Canterbury Tales. Trans. J. U. Nicholson. New York: Dover Publications, 1994.

Moore, Andrew. Study Guide to the Wife of Bath. August 28, 2000.

Sussman, Paul. Chaucer Revisited. October 25, 2000.