Canterbury Tales Wife Of Bath 2

Essay, Research Paper

Canterbury Tales: Wife of Bath

The Wife of Bath is a very envious women, who desires only a few

simple things in life.She likes to make mirror images of herself,

through her stories, which in some way reflects the person who she

really is. This is all proven_through the many ways she portrays her


The Wife of Bath desires the obvious in life, but what she most

desires above all is being more powerful than her man, her spouse, and

her lover.In a relationship, she wishes to be the dominant of the

two.The one who has the_last say.The one who is in control and decides

all of the matters in the relationship.This is shown in her tale when

the knight fulfills his task to her.”‘…a women wants the self-same

sovereignty over her husband and her lover.And master him: he must not

be above her.This is your greatest wish…’ In the court not one that

shook her head or contra-dicted what the knight had said…” (lines

164-170) The knight had spoken and fulfilled his quest, he found what

women what the best.No women in the assembly disagreed with the

knight’s reply and certainly not the old hag.So it must be true power

is what women what the most.There is another example of the desire of

power for the women it the relationship. The old hag, after marrying

the knight, gives him_a choice. For her to either stay ugly and be

faithful or to become beautiful and wonder. ” ‘My lady, my love, my

dearest wife, I leave the matter to your wise decision.You make the

choice yourself, for the provision.I don’t care which; whatever

pleases you suffices me.’” “‘Have I won the mastery?’ she said ‘Since

I am to choose and rule as I think fit?’” “‘Certainly, wife, that’s

it.’” (lines 310-318) Consequently, the hag became beautiful, but yet

still faith-_ful.This example shows how happy the women became when

she was given the power.So happy that she rewarded her husband by

becoming beautiful. ” ‘And may Christ Jesus send us husbands (that

are) meek and young and fresh in bed.And grace to overbid them when we

wed.and-Jesu hear my prayer!- cut short the lives of the those who

won’t be governed by their wives.’” (lines 338-343) This desire also

leads her to become envious of her characters in her tale.

By comparing the Wife of Bath’s prologue to her tale it becomes

very visible that she is jealous of the old hag in her story. For

the hag was given the power and dominance over her husband. In the

Wife’s true life it was not like that. Since the Wife of Bath

loved Johnny (her fifth husband) so much she gave him all of her

possessions, intern giving him the power. “‘I gave my whole heart up

for him to hold…I handed him all the money (she had never done this

before) lands, and all that ever had been given me before; This I

repented more and more.None of my pleasures would he let me seek…he

smote me once upon the cheek….’” Through this statement made by the

wife it shows that her fifth husband had the upper hand.This is not

what she desired. She becomes jealous of the hag in the tale because

the hag has what the wife does not.The hag has the power in the

relationship. She is given the choice of what to do and when to do it.

The wife has this choice taken from her.She wishes she could be like

the hag.This is also where her characterization comes in.

The way The Wife of Bath’s Tale is written shows some similarities

between the wife’s prologue and her story. The major one is the

appearance of the two.Both the wife and the hag are not very

attractive and both are old.The wife_is described in lines 395-398.

“‘…I was forty then, to tell the truth.But still I always had a

coltish tooth.Yes I’m gap tooth, it suits me well…’” The hag when

describing herself says she is old an ugly.The wife, in some way,

because of the similarities in appearance, sees herself in her tale.

In conclusion, the wife wants what every woman wants in a

relationship; power. Because of this desire for power she becomes

jealous of the hag, whom she identifies with.She wishes that even

though she is ugly, as the hag is, she can have the power that

the hag has.That she may be given from her partner the power to make

the decisions and the choices and not have that taken away from her.


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