Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath

Sample Essay

Words 1,194

The Wife of Bath is Chaucer’s most complete character.  This businesswoman from Bath is revealed to the reader in three different portrayals.  The representation of the wife first starts with a material, visual estimation then moves towards an autobiographical interpretation, and finally, a symbolic representation.  In the main part of the story the image of the wife becomes more profound and compelling as one introduced to a multifaceted, more direct account of her character; through her self-portrayal, the issue of fairness between sexes becomes the principal focus within the Wife. Finally, the Wife of Bath’s Tale takes this idea of women’s rights and incorporates them into a story of female dominance over men.  This shift in focus from the wife to the tale symbolizes a sense of social commentary on the place of women in society from the author.

The story and the speech represent a woman’s desire to be in control.  From this surrender of control to the wife, marriage can be altered in a way that equality between man and woman is recognized. The traditional standard that men are superior to women is brought into question. Through this series of thoughtful consideration within the character of the Wife, Chaucer exhibits a social commentary testing the socially established standards concerning the roles of men and women.

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