The Wife Of Bath

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The Wife Of Bath’s View On Marriage Essay, Research Paper The Wife of Bath’s View On Marriage The Wife of Bath has her own perception of marriage, which Chaucer shows in both the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale. Marriage itself was defined by Webster’s Dictionary as the state of being married, a wedding ceremony and attendant festivities, or a close union. Marry or married is said to be joined as husband and wife according to law or custom, or to take as husband or wife, says Webster’s Dictionary. In both the Prologue and Tale of the Wife of Bath we see the institution of marriage used as control over money and sexual powers. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath displays a complete sense of mockery toward marriage as a holy institution. The Prologue and Tale of the Wife of

Bath clearly show that the Wife of Bath sees marriage as a woman’s dominance over a man. In the Prologue, the Wife of Bath starts to defend her actions of marrying five men. She interprets from scripture: All I know for sure is, God has plainly bidden us to increase and multiply a noble text, and one I understand! And, as I’m well aware, He said my husband must leave father and mother, cleave to me. But, as to number, did He specify? He named no figure, neither two nor eight why should folk talk of it as a disgrace? (219-20) She uses her marriages as a sort of fulfillment of God’s word. Using two specific examples from scripture she explains why her marriages are justifiable by God: For then, says the Apostle Paul, I’m free to wed, in God’s name, where it pleases me. He

says to be married is no sin, better it is to marry than to burn. I know that Abraham was a holy man, and Jacob too, so far as I can tell; and they had more than two wives, both of them, and many another holy men as well. Now you can tell me where, in any age, almighty God explicitly forbade all marrying and giving in marriage? (220) She talks of Apostle Paul, being of a saintly churchman his words mean its God’s word for people to marry. Then Abraham and Jacob have more then one wife, not following a monogamous way of life, where you have one wife. The Wife of Bath uses it to justify her five marriages, saying if they were not monogamous and people did not condemn them then why should I care. Also that without such marriages then there would be no procreation to produce more

virgins. This Prologue was more her autobiography about her life and her husbands and why she married them. She would have been conceived at that time in the medieval Church as a bad woman, deceitful in her actions and reasons for marriage. The Wife of Bath clearly states that she is proud of her five marriages: Blessed be God that I have married five! Here’s to the sixth, whenever he turns up. (220) This shows that she does not have any concern for what the clergymen feel. It is explained in the Prologue that her first three husbands were good and the other two bad: Three were good husbands, two of them were bad. The three good ones were very rich and old; but barely able, all the same, to hold to the term of our covenant and contract. (224) Chaucer makes it seem as if this

character is simply waiting for them to die, for purposes of property or other financial profits. The next line in the Prologue proves this point: How cruelly I made them sweat at night! And I can tell you it meant nothing to me. They’d given me their land and property; I’d no more need to be assiduous tow in their love, or treat them with respect. (224) She exhibits complete authority or control over her husbands: I’d gain, in every way, the upper hand by force or fraud, or by some stratagem like everlasting natter, endless grumbling. Bed in particular was their misfortune; that’s when I’d scold, and see they got no fun. I wouldn’t stop a moment in the bed if I felt my husband’s arm over my side, no, not until his ransom had been paid, and then I’d let him do the