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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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