Monday, September 2, 2019
Chaucers Canterbury Tales Essay - The Wife of Bath and the Ideal Woman
The Wife of Bath and the Ideal Woman Ã Ã The Wife of Bath is one of Chaucer's most memorable characters. In the "General Prologue," she is described as a somewhat deaf, voluptuous, married woman. She is a clothing maker, has a gap tooth, the sign of a lust nature, and she wears brilliant red stockings. Her fantastic description alone sparks interest, a spark that is later fanned into fire when her prologue is read. The Wife's outlandish description of her marriages makes her unique and memorable among the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, most of which are identified by conventional occupation. Chaucer has deliberately made the Wife a notable character by giving her life many unconventional twists. Her marriages are contradictory, and her personality is at odds with the medieval view of women Chaucer creates her in order to show that this woman, however rare and unique she is, cannot openly struggle for equality and independence. Her prologue gives the reader the notion that, when Alison is talking about herself, "It's a bit like an anti-confession, with her saying this is what I'm like, there's no way I'm going to change (Beer 8). This is her initial portrayal, but at the end of her prologue, the Wife of Bath succumbs to the pressure of society, conforms and becomes the ideal medieval wife. Ã The Wife's marriages, when viewed in order, show her struggle for power and her surrender to authority. In the first few lines the reader learns that Alison was married five times. Her five husbands represent the progression of a woman from a power-hungry girl to a submissive spouse. Her five husbands can be divided into two groups, the first group consisting of the Wife's first three husbands. Of this first group she says, "Th... ... Mark. "The Wife of Bath and Women's Power." Assays 4 (1987): 67-83. Bott, Robin. "The Wife of Bath and the Revelour: Power Struggles and Failure in a Marriage of Peers." Medieval Perspectives 6 (1991): 154-161. Carruthers, Mary. "The Wife of Bath and the Painting of Lions." PMLA 94 (1979): 209-18. Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. Ed. Larry Benson. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton, 1987. Crane, Susan. "Alison's Incapacity and Poetic Instability in the Wife of Bath's Tale." MLA 102 (1987): 20-27. Leicester, Jr., H. Marshall. "Of a fire in the dark: Public and Private Feminism in the Wife of Bath's Tale." Women's Studies 11.1-2 (1985): 157-78. Oberembt, Kenneth. "Chaucer's Anti-Misogynist Wife of Bath." The Chaucer Review 10 (1976): 287-302. Patterson, Lee. Chaucer and the Subject of History. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.