Canterbury Tales -The Woman Of Bath Essay, Research Paper
The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, is a collection of stories in a frame story, between 1387 and 1400. It is the story of a group of thirty people who travel as pilgrims to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas Beckett. The pilgrims, who come from all classes of society, tell stories to each other to kill time while they travel to Canterbury. In the Prologue, it states Chaucer intended that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. He died before he had a chance to finish his project; however, he did manage to complete twenty-four of the tales including the one supposedly told by the Woman of Bath. The rather promiscuous Woman of Bath told an interesting story which was in keeping with her unique personality.
The lewd Woman of Bath was a very intricate cloth-maker who led a very interesting life. She was a member of the urban society and was very successful in her endeavors. She was considered attractive, she had big hips, long hair, gapped teeth, and she was somewhat deaf. She wore tight clothes, a red scarf on her head, red fishnet stockings, and soft new shoes. All of these things, along with the fact that she was very well traveled indicated that she was rather wealthy. The Woman of Bath had five husbands and many more love affairs. Chaucer states that she knows how to remedy love?s problems, an art at which she knew the oldest
dances. The Woman of Bath was quite an attractive, wealthy and promiscuous woman of her day.
The story told by the Woman of Bath seemed complicated, but when it comes down to it, it is simply about the one thing a woman wants in a relationship. Her tale begins with a king?s men out on a journey. On his journey, he came across a very attractive young woman, and being a man, he raped her. When the King found out, he was outraged and ordered and ordered the man?s death. However, the Queen begged for his life. The King decided that the Queen could decide the man?s punishment. She decided that if he wanted to live, he would have one year and a day to go out on a journey to decide what it is that a woman wants most in a relationship. So, he set out on another journey. He went an entire year asking every woman he found what she wanted most, only to hear a different answer from each and every woman. Finally, his year was coming to an end and he began his way home. On the way he met an old woman, this woman told him that she would tell him the secret to what women want, if he promised to do whatever she asks of him first. He agreed. She told him that all a woman wants is to be in complete and total control over her marriage and love affairs. The man then went back to the Queen and her court of women and told them what he had learned. No one disagreed with what he said, so the queen spared his life. The Old Woman then stood up and said now you have to do what I ask you to. So, will you marry me? The man broke down yelling no, anything but that. However, he had to do it anyway. On their wedding night, he ignored her and treated her very coldly. When she asked why, he told her what do you expect you are old and ugly. She continued to tell him that being old and ugly is a sign of chastity and cleanliness; while, being young and attractive is a sign of promiscuity and dirtiness. She told him that he had to choose which one of the two he wanted. He told her that it did not matter,
and it was all up to her; therefore, giving her control over the situation. In reward, the next morning when they awoke, she was the best of both worlds. Not only was she young and beautiful, she was faithful and pure at the same time. The story told by the Woman of Bath was quite interesting.
The Woman of Bath had five failed marriages and many other failed relationships; thus, the story she told may be her reasoning for their failure. At first glance, the story the Woman of Bath told did not seem to fit her promiscuous description at all, seeing as though it was a story of a successful and happy relationship. However, when considering her many failed relationships it is easy to see how she may blame their failure completely on the men?s lack of giving her control. If she had not been such a promiscuous character, she probably would have come up with an original crime other than rape for the King?s man. So, it is quite believable that the Woman of Bath could conceive a tale such as the one she told.
The lewd Woman of Bath told a fascinating tale that fit her interesting personality quite well.