In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer writes about thirty characters, but one stands out: the Wife of Bath. The Wife of Bath is one of the livelier and more enthusiastic characters on the pilgrimage. From the General Prologue and the prologue to her tale, we can see that she has extreme views about women and marriage especially in this time period when women listened rather than debated. The prologues also depict an unattractive Wife of Bath: her gapped teeth and wide forehead. She often refers to the Bible and states that although God wants women to be virgins, the Bible also states that they should be fruitful. She had so many husbands so she can become fertilized and as a result, more virgins can be produced. The prologues and the tale have many similarities. The three most distinguishable features that unify the prologues and the tale are the dominance of The Wife and the hag, the similar descriptions of the Wife and of the hag, and the duplicate images and similarity between the fifth husband, Jankyn, and the knight.
The first D in the sequence I have outlined is Dominance. Dominance is shown in the General Prologue and in the prologue to the tale through the Wife of Bath. The answer to the queens question was all women love to have control over their husbands and The Wife of Bath is an example of this because she loved to have jurisdiction over her lovers. “‘My lige lady, generally,’” quod he, “‘Wommen desire to have sovereinetee as wel over hir housbounde as hir love, and for to been in maistrye him above’” (1043-1046). Another example regarding dominance is how the Wife of Bath, is very artistic in her clothing production. She tried to dominate the market because she was even better than famous weavers in Belgium. “Of cloth-making she hadde swich an haunt, she passed him of Ypres and Gaunt” (80-81). She advertises this ability in church: “I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound that on a Sonday were upon hir heed” (454-455). She also demonstrates this power over her husbands. The first three are old and rich, and she would withhold pleasure from them to get what she wants. “How pitously anight I made hem swinke” (208). This is a perfect example of how she is in charge of her husbands. She has troubles with her fourth and fifth husbands in being dominant in the relationship, but eventually, she gains the upper hand. “After that day we hadde nevere debat” (828). Dominance is also portrayed in the tale through the old hag. Who is superior to the knight because he allows her to decide whether she should be old and faithful or beautiful and unfaithful. If he had not given her the power to decide, then they would both end up unhappy. “I putte me in youre wise governaunce: Cheseth yourself which may be most plesaunce and most honour to you and me also. I do no fors the wheither of the two, For as you liketh it suffiseth me” (1237-1240).
The next D concerns the description of the Wife of Bath and the old hag from the tale. This relationship refers to physical features more than any other characteristics. The Wife of Bath is said to have lost her beauty and has become dull. “Hath me biraft my beautee and my pith – Lat go, farewell, the devel go therwith” (481-482). The Wife of Bath is not very attractive; however, the old hag is even worse. The knight states, “A fouler wight ther no man devise” (1005). Later on in the story, the old woman says, “‘Now there ye saye that I am foul and old’” (1219). Because of all the similarities between the Wife of Bath and the old hag, one can persuasively argue that later on in her life,