The Wife of Bath's Tale, from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, was a veiled social critique. Her tale was a treatise of social commentaries on the role of gender, the church, and nobility in society. Geoffrey Chaucer used the duplicity of his character, The Wife of Bath, and her tale, as an allegory for social inequality and the hypocrisies of the ruling classes. The Wife of Bath's tale begins with her prologue which lets her companions know that she is an authority on marriage and will tell a tale to prove it. She cited her experience within the realm of marriage as grounds for her expertise. Blessed be God that I have wedded five, /Of whiche I have piked out the beste, /Bothe of hir nether purs and of hir cheste (254 Lines 44-47). As well as informing her audience of her five marriages, she crudely and happily commented on her ability of emptying her husband's wallets as well as testicles. This statement portrays the women as lustful and greedy. The Wife of Bath proudly displayed all of the requirements of being a wicked woman of the era.
[...] In her tale, The Wife of Bath portrays women as being in a position of authority both morally and mentally. King Arthur, the most powerful king in history, held the opinion of his wife seemingly higher than his own. The errant Knight was first commissioned by the Queen to seek out what women truly wanted. Upon his travels the position of authority that belonged to the Queen shifted to the knowledgeable old woman who held the answer to his quest. [...]
[...] Dooth as you list: I am here at youre wille.” (276 Lines 1044-1048) This answer is overtly symbolic of the control that both the Church and Nobility, who are both women, desire to posses over man whom is thus representative of the Commoner. This also shows a direct correlation between the Church and Nobility and the arbitrary exchange of power between the women that both maintain their dominance. As the tale progresses the old haggard woman poses a seemingly moral question to her new husband. [...]
[...] The Wife of Bath was an outlet for Chaucer to make a social commentary. Her bold nature was symbolic of the author's audacious social critiques. Her duplicity was intentional and necessary to draw the well constructed and concealed comparison to the hypocrisy of Chaucer's society. The ability to criticize the social constraints in this period was reserved for only those authors who were capable of very intelligent language and structure. It is a testament to Chaucer's craft that he was able to [...]
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