Wife Of Bath


This Prologue is by far the longest in The Canterbury Tales and is twice as long as the actual story, showing the importance of the prologue to the significance of the overall tale. In the beginning the wife expresses her views in which she believes the morals of women is not merely that they all solely desire "sovereignty", but that each individual woman should have the opportunity to make the decision. "The Wife of Bath", contradicts many of the typical customs of the time and provides an overbearing assessment in which the roles of women in society are bound to accept it quietly. The Wife of Bath knows the stories of many holy men who have had multiple wives and says: Well I know Abraham was a holy man, and Jacob as well, as far as I know, and each of them had more than two wives. And many other holy men did as well. When have you seen that in any time great God forbade marriage explicitly? Tell me, I Pray you. Through this quote, she addresses why society should not look down on her or any other female who has wed to multiple men throughout their life. The tale confronts the double standard and the social belief in the inherent inferiority of women, and attempts to establish a defence of secular women's sovereignty that opposes the conventions available to her. The Wife of Bath's tale argues that women are morally identical to men who have also had more than one spouse. Double standards for men and women were common and deeply rooted in culture.

George suggests that the Wife's tale may have been written to ease Chaucer's guilty conscience. It is recorded that in 1380 associates of Chaucer stood surety for an amount equal to half his yearly salary for a charge brought by Cecily Champaign for "de rapto", rape or abduction; the same view has been taken of his Legend of Good Women , which Chaucer himself describes as a penance. [6]

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