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Free Example of Wife of Bath's Materials Essay

Authorship: Canterbury Tales is Geoffrey Chaucer’s masterpiece. This is a collection of 24 tales; it includes “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”. The author started working on the tales in 1386, although some of the stories had already been written by that time. The Canterbury Tales and his other poetry works have been translated and studied since the 19th century.

General Prologue about “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”: The Wife of Bath’s, having been married for five times, considers herself an authority on matters concerning marriage and sex. She cites several verses from the Bible on issues concerning marriage and sex. She talks about her five husbands. She failed to gain control over the first three as they died because of old age. She managed to gain control over the fourth husband, who also died. Jankyn, a clerk, became her fifth husband. They met when she was burying her fourth husband. The clerk appeared more occupied by his books than his wife, which upset her. They had a fight during a quarrel, and the wife pretended to be dead. The husband was terribly worried and promised to do anything to bring her back to life. Little did he know that it was a trap to gain control over him.

Summary of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”: The tale is about a young knight who raped a maiden. The knight then searches for a solution to what women desire most. He is given a one year ultimatum by King Arthur to provide the answer to the question or be punished. His journey in search for the answer is not successful. He becomes frustrated and desperate and returns to the king. On his way back, he spots a group of young maidens. As he gets nearer, the maidens disappear, leaving behind an old woman. The woman tells the knight that she has the solution, but would only provide it if he did whatever she wanted. The knight desperately agrees. The old woman then reveals to him that a woman’s desire is to gain authority over her husband. Nobody disagrees with the answer. The woman then asks the knight to marry him, and he agrees reluctantly. On the night of their wedding, the knight feels regret for his deeds. The old woman convinces him that appearance is insignificant. She then asks the knight to choose between ugly but faithful or beautiful but unfaithful. Since the knight does not make a choice, the old woman makes the choice instead of him.

Significance: Comparing the prologue and the tale shows that the Wife of Bath’s desires women to have authority over their husbands. In her tale, she becomes jealous of the old woman. However, she identifies with her in the sense that both desire to be powerful in their relationships. She knows she is ugly as the old woman, and may also be given power to make decisions and choices by her partner. The Wife of Bath’s desire is to have a young, meek, and fresh in bed husband. The desire makes her jealous of the characters in her tale.

Points to Remember:

  1. Women desire to have authority over men in relationships as depicted in both the Wife of Bath’s prologue and tale.
  2. The Wife of Bath’s likes to portray her character to reflect her real personality. This is in reference to the old woman.
  3. The author’s emphasis on the Wife of Bath’s details provokes the reader to evaluate her closely. It shows the author loved her extrovert, sociable, and vigorous nature.
Code: Sample20

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