The Canterbury Tales

Consistency Between Chaucer's Prologue and Character-Narrated Tales: The Wife of Bath

The Wife of Bathâs tale is appropriate to her character, and perfectly complements the description of the Wife in the General Prologue of Geoffrey Chaucerâs late 1300s literary masterpiece The Canterbury Tales. The Wife of Bath creates a heroine through whom it is possible to live vicariously. In the character of the âold woman,â? readers find the epitome of a female who gains power through weaving the threads of youth, beauty and desire. In the tale, the boundaries of reality and deceit do not exist. The woman is her own creation. The Wife of Bath, within her mortal limitations, has elevated her own societal position through the same techniques that are exemplified, to such a hyperbolized degree, through the character in her tale. The storyâs protagonist, the knight, falls victim to the old woman and cannot evade the trap she has set for him. The knight, then, typifies the nave men of status who are the objects of the Wifeâs insatiable desire. The old woman and the knight thus people a story attributed to the most appropriate pilgrim on the journey, the Wife of Bath.

In the General Prologue, Chaucer describes the Wifeâs âkerchiefs...of finely woven groundâ? and her âhose...of the finest scarlet red.â? The âgartered tightâ? hose...

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