the Wife of Bath

the Wife of Bath - ENG 151 The Canterbury Tales Week 4...

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ENG 151 Week 4 Response Regina Gaines The Canterbury Tales Student Id #1513-4597 Character Analysis The lengthy prologue of the Wife of Bath acts as a public exhibition of her married life. She every bit a woman in that her prologue is overflowing with dramatic opinion and gossip. The Wife of Bath is a modern day woman in medieval times. She is in search of love and mastery. In the Prologue to the Tale, Alisoun presents her audience, the other travelers, her own explanation of her social behavior and marital experience. She feels her experience of five husbands qualifies her to speak of the "wo that is in marriage" (257:3). This "wo" or misery that is found in marriage is the premise of her perspective. For the most part, the Wife's account of herself seems to be candid and sincere. She hardly makes an effort to conceal her bad behaviors as she confesses her. She admits to being married five times and makes no apologies about it; in fact she defends her marital past with vehemence. The Wife goes on to back up her decision to enter matrimony five times by refuting the Bible and her critics. She substantiates her case with the number of wives of recognized holy men, "I woot wel Abraham was an holy man/ And Jacob eek, as fer as evere I can/ And eech of hem hadde wives mo than two/ And many another holy man also" (258:61-64). She confesses that she manipulated and took advantage of her first three husbands who were, "goode, and riche, and olde" (261:203). While she reminisces about her three "good" marriages, she is amused at, "How pitously anight [she] made them swinke" (208). She "pitously" made them she is suggesting a hint of sympathy for these old men that she mercilessly used and abused. Her description of her fourth husband illustrates a more even playing ground. Her fourth husband is more her age and keeps a mistress; she admits that his infidelity led her to resentment. In response to his unfaithfulness, she tries to make him jealous by pretending to have other lovers, making him "the same wode a croce" (267:490). She purports to be his hell on Earth when she says, "By God, in erthe I was his purgatorye" (495).
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the Wife of Bath - ENG 151 The Canterbury Tales Week 4...

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