The interaction between the wife of bath and the friar in "the wife of baths prologue" is part of Chaucers frame story
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One of the key issues for interpreting the Wife’s tale historically has been the relationship between prologue and tale: some critics have found in the Wife’s fairy-tale ending a wistful, saddened dreaminess from an elderly woman whose hopes for a sixth husband might turn out to be futile. Other critics have treated the tale as a matter of “maistrie” and control, arguing that the Wife’s tale, starting as it does with a rape (a man physically dominating a woman), is deeply ambiguous at its close about precisely whose desire is being fulfilled. Surely there is little point in the woman having the maistrie if all she is to do with it is to please her husband? Yet it seems to me that the Wife’s tale and prologue can be treated as one lengthy monologue, and it is the voice we attribute that monologue too which proves impossible to precisely define. The Wife’s tale inherits the issue of the woman as literary text (Constance, in the Man of Law’s tale, was “pale”, like paper waiting to be written on, and used as an exchangeable currency by the merchants and – perhaps – by the Man of Law) and develops it. Text, and the interpretation of text is absolutely central to the Wife of Bath’s Tale. The General Prologue describes her as being swathed in textile, and, of course, “textere”, the Latin verb meaning “to weave” is the key to a close relationship between “cloth” and “text” in the Middle Ages. For the Wife, as well as being excellent at spinning a tale, is also excellent at spinning cloth – and is surrounded, problematically in text in just the way the Prologue has her covered in cloth. When, at the very end of her tale, the lothly lady implores her husband to “cast up the curtyn” and see her as she really is, she highlights one of the key problems in the tale: it is very difficult to ascertain precisely where fiction stops and reality begins.