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Wife of Bath In Chaucer's Canterburry Tales


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 characters. 

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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