Wife of Bath's Tale

Wife of Bath’s Tale

  • Plot: The articulate and worldly Wife of Bath relates a tale about a knight who commits an atrocious crime, is rewarded a second chance, and eventually is taught a valuable lesson about women’s desire for sovereignty in a relationship.
  • Structure & Language Techniques: The Wife of Bath’s Tale, structured as a Breton lai, makes use of rhymed couplets, satire, direct humour, and vivid imagery, with underlying themes addressed through allegory and allusion.
  • Themes & Linking Poems: The themes of power, gender roles, marriage and sovereignty are linked to other poems in the collection, including “The Miller’s Tale” and “The Knight’s Tale,” which also engage with such societal and personal dynamics.
  • Key Quotes: Notable quotes like “Who painted the lion, tell me who?” and “It is a great shame for a man to let himself be ruled by his wife” elucidate the Wife’s views on female power and her critique of patriarchal control.
  • Poet & Context: Geoffrey Chaucer, living in 14th-century England, highlights through his characters and stories a range of societal norms and issues of his time, including women’s rights, power dynamics in relationships, and the complexities of social hierarchy.