Wife Of Bath Essay

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Vieri Arriaga
Ms. Angermeyer
Section 5
English 3
The Wife of Bias
What is it that women truly desire? The
Canterbury Tales
, a collection of short stories written by the “Father of Literature” Geoffrey Chaucer. In the collection, there is a manipulative woman known as the Wife of Bath.The Wife justifies that sovereignty over their husbands is what women truly desire by placing emphasis on the belief that women are better than men. In this tale, the men are portrayed very negatively; contrary to this the women are portrayed positively.
In the Wife’s prologue, there is a heavy emphasis on women having sovereignty over their husband. Following this in her tale, the reader can see the implication of men being weak and inferior to women. The Knight is the first victim of the Wife’s judgement. This Knight sits at the round­table with King Arthur himself, yet he fails to follow the code of chivalry. Lust takes over the Knight upon encountering the innocent maiden, and at that moment “By very force he took her maidenhead” (282). Already the reader can infer that the Knight is weak and not chivalrous. It is also clear that he is not very honorable and in fact very rude. He swore an oath to the old lady for giving him the answer to the Queen’s question, yet when the time comes to hold up his end of the bargain he gets on his knees and begs for her to change the request: “ ‘Alas!’ he said, ‘Old lady, by the Lord/ I know indeed that such was my behest,/ But for God’s love think of a new request,/ Take all my goods, but leave my body free” (286). He even goes as far as cruelly insulting her; not only is it wrong to disrespect a lady, but even less to an aged woman. Although the Knight is weak and void of chivalry, King Arthur is

portrayed no differently. The King himself, the highest authority in all the land, is depicted as a weak man because he hands over his authority to his wife, the Queen. Even the minor characters mentioned in the tale are portrayed negatively. King Midas is well known as the man with the golden touch and turning his daughter into gold. In this tale, he is illustrated as an object of stupidity and ridicule. The reader would think that the golden touch would have given Midas some common sense but he instead he gains a pair of asses ears. Last but not least is the Holy Friar, the perfect example of a corrupt man of the church who rather than being virtuous will steal one’s virtue. These four men in the
Wife’s tale, from the major characters like the Knight to the minor ones, the reader can piece together the negative outlook the Wife has on men and how poorly each represents their position. Contrary to the men, the Wife illustrates the women in her tale with good light.
Although minor, the maiden is a victim of a terrible crime, her innocence was robbed by the
Knight. Another female character in the Wife’s tale is the Queen. She is depicted to have more authority