the wife of bath
Role of women as teachers in Wife of Bath
Authored by Geoffrey Chaucer, Wife of Bath is an insightful tale about women’s position in the medieval ages. Chaucer depicts the protagonist, Wife of Bath, as a woman out to challenge the patriarchal society using the wisdom gained through her carnal experience (Mead 397). Some of her exploits include having had five husbands, with an insatiable longing for a sixth. Chaucer portrays most women characters as teachers.
The Wife of Bath character provides profound views on marriage. She diligently argues from the scripture that marriage is a good thing, despite its tribulations. Further, she cautions husbands against committing adultery with their neighbor’s wife or maid and encourages them to cherish and appreciate the beauty of their wives rather (235-240). Arthur’s Queen is also an important figure who instead of taking the life of the young knight accused of rape, she sends him on a moral expedition where the knight finally learns about the sovereignty of women and respect.
Another instance when women are considered as teachers is the introduction of the old woman in the story, who proves helpful as she provides the young knight with an answer to Arthur’s Queen question that spares his life (1015-1020). When the young knight later marries the old woman unwillingly, and condemns her as old and ugly, she cautions him about his negative attitude. She further informs him that character counts more than wealth, and alludes that she can be old and ugly, but a good wife rather than being beautiful and young, but a loose woman.
Overall, Wife of Bath provides a platform where women, even in the medieval times, are symbolically used to teach moral lessons. Female characters such as the Wife, the old woman and Arthur’s Queen play a central role in pacifying the patriarchal society. Primarily, Chaucer uses these characters to shape the women’s role in the late middle ages.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Wife of Bath. New York, NY: Start Publishing LLC, 2012. Print.
Mead, William E. “The Prologue of the Wife of Bath’s Tale”. PMLA 16.3 (1901): 388–404. JSTOR. Web. 10 November 2015.