Analysis Of The Wife Of Bath’s Knowledge Of Marriage In The Prologue

The Wife of Bath is notorious for having multiple failed marriages and not being able to stay faithful in her sexuality. The Wife portrays many attributes to many different characteristics but one that sticks out the most is her marriage. In the wife’s prologue, Chaucer talks about how she acted out in some of her various messages like how what she says and how she talks to her various partners. In her prologue, she is observed by the townspeople as a bad person, but judging from her tale and the wisdom she had used through it, she seems like she has some wisdom in her that the people just don’t see. The Wife of Bath is sort of shown as an example of how people really shouldn’t judge a person just by their actions.

In the prologue of The Wife of Bath, she starts off by explaining that she has had 5 marriages by the age of 12. This goes to show that the wife loved to marry and did multiple times, therefore she seems to lack the knowledge on how to use her judgment and stay in a relationship. “For, lordings, since I twelve years was of age, Thanks be to God who eternally does thrive, Husbands at church-door have I had five – If it be allowed so oft to wedded be – And all were worthy men in their degree”. The townspeople regularly criticize the Wife of Bath of her many marriages but some compare her to the example in the Bible on how Jesus Christ only went to one wedding, in Cana. She replies by talking about how God asked us to “wax fruitful and multiply,” and that this is the text that she fully supports. Finally, she also includes renowned Old Testament characters, such as Abraham, Jacob, and Solomon that had various wives at once. “Men may divine and gloss, up and down, But well I know, indeed, without a lie, God bade us all to wax and multiply. That gentle text I well can understand!”.

Marriage is also explored in the Wifes tale, in which she talks about a young knight who rapes a girl and gets sentenced to death by the queen but his life will be spared if, within one year, he can discover what women want most in the world. So, he accompanies the help of a repulsive-looking woman to give him the answer but in return, he must commit himself to her. The answer to the question which he bestows to the court was that what women most desire is to choose for themselves and to be in charge of their husband. The queen replies with an astounding yes and the knight get’s spared but he has to marry the woman. Within the marriage, the woman asks why the knight is unhappy and he replies that he is living with shame because he is married to an ugly, lowborn wife. “You are so ugly, and so old, and more You come also of such a lowly kin, That little wonder is I thrash and spin. God, would the heart but burst in my breast!’”. His wife does not take offense to this comment but, replies by talking about how there have been descendants of great fathers who were corrupt and wicked, even though they shared the same blood. She concludes by saying her family may be poor, but real poverty rests in greed, and true riches lie in having little and coveting nothing. She then asks him the question of if he would want a wife of looks who is also unfaithful, or a wife who is ugly but faithful to her husband. The knight reflects quietly furthermore then he replies that he rather just trust her judgment, and he asks her to pick whatever she believes is best. She then becomes both beautiful and good because the knight gave the woman the authority to choose for herself which is what women most desire in a marriage.

In conclusion, there are many different components to make a marriage work out properly. In the Wife of Bath’s tale, she displays her wisdom through the use of a story of a knight. Though she doesn’t seem like a person who would have this knowledge, judging from the criticizing view of a townsperson, yet however, in reality, she does. People make assertions just by hearing about them or even looking at them. The repulsive-looking wife got to convince the young knight that a faithful and loyal wife is more trustworthy than one of looks who is unfaithful. The Wife of Bath possesses knowledge of marriage that the numerous people who know of her don’t see and those on the journey are starting to apprehend. 

16 August 2021
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