Analysis of the Role of Marriage in Wife of Bath's Tale

Geoffrey Chaucers The Canterbury Tales demonstrates a plethora of attitudes toward and perceptions of conjugal union, with some of these ideas being extremely cautious while new(prenominal)s be wildly liberal, all concluding that the strife between men and women is of divergent wills and natures. While several of these tales are rather comical, they do indeed give us a representation of the attitudes toward marriage at that time in history. The Nuns Priests, wife of Baths, and The Franklins Tales all have different aspects on the subject of marriage but when addressing the question of who has correctly identified the proper roles in marriage, it is undoubtedly The Wife of Bath, a tale that satirically and scoffingly demonstrates the wifes overall vie for mastery within the marriage by her manipulation of the husbands weaknesses of both the flesh and the mind. It is these peculiarities of the Wife of Baths tale that uniquely answer the question of who deserves the mastery in marriage.

The Wife of Baths prologue introduces the pilgrim who narrates this tale, Alison, a gap toothed, partially deaf seamstress and widower of cardinal husbands, claiming to have great experience in the ways of the purport by remedying whatever might ail it. Alison, unlike the other tales in comparison, describes marriage as a misery and a woe. (p.

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258) The Wife of Baths tale sets itself apart by presenting a cleaning woman who, although rather typical in this day and age, is unconventional and atypical of the women of Chaucers time. Chaucer develops this especially in the language used by Alison, amalgamate language that often contains sexual connotations, perhaps even truism it in a lady-like manner, feeding into her views that women however vicious [we] may be within [we] like to be thought bracing and void of sin. (p. 283) The Wife...

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