Chaucer's Poetry

Chaucer's Imagery in the Wife of Bath’s Prologue 12th Grade

Throughout ‘The Wife of Bath’s Prologue’, Chaucer uses imagery to enhance our understanding of the Wife’s character and principles. Chaucer makes use of simple yet powerful metaphors such as fire and nature to augment our understanding of the Wife’s personality. However, some of the more fundamental images throughout the poem - animals and trade, for example - help portray the Wife’s key arguments and ideas and are used to aid social commentary throughout the text. Many of these images would have been particularly pertinent in the medieval context in which ‘The Canterbury Tales’ were written and would have therefore been useful in enhancing the reader/ listener’s understanding of the overarching themes of the prologue.

Analysis of the Wife of Bath’s prologue reveals repeated use of certain metaphors which collectively create a vivid illustration of The Wife of Bath’s strong and lustful personality. For example, the idea of fire is regularly associated with the Wife e.g. ‘Better is to be wedded than to brinne.’ Here, Chaucer is making use of a biblical citation which the Wife uses to excuse her multiple marriages; the verb ‘brinne’ refers...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 725 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4184 literature essays, 1403 sample college application essays, 171 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in