First off, I’d like to say that it’s interesting that Chaucer chose to make the Wife of Bath’s actual tale shorter than her prologue, but given her background in the prologue, the tale makes that much more sense. Going past that, I liked the tale better than the prologue itself, at least in terms of what it was trying to say. Like the prologue, this is definately feminist, or at least proto-feminist, and I’ve got to wonder if the tale of the knight raping the beautiful maiden isn’t strange given Chaucer’s later accusations of rape.
Food for thought.
I really didn’t like the knight, given that he raped a girl, but he was redeemed, I suppose, since he gave into his wife’s wishes completely at the end. It still seemed like he got off relatively scott free though, yet the wife’s declaration that what women really want is to be in control of their marriage, which the old hag gets, is a bold one for the time. Chaucer was definately a forward thinker for his period. I mean, I can’t see many other medieval authors (and like we said in class that term was largely relative at the time) taking the time to outline a character such as the wife in such detail. Certainly her views of the church were wildly heretical for the time. Especially the implications that although priests and fairies both raped women, only fairies were able to cause women to conceive. Priests, according to the wife, only brought shame, and since medieval England was a church-run patriachal society, there was no outlet for women wronged in this manner. Still, something as heinous as rape seemed to be occuring with terrible frequency back then.
However, what I enjoyed most about the wife, in both her prologue and her tale, was how unflinchingly unapologetic she was in her views. Women should have meek husbands that are good in bed and short-lived. Well, I must say if that’s what she wants, she should go for it. Given that she was married five times, and that she seemed to always get what she wanted, I’d say she accomplished her goal. And credit should go to Chaucer as well, for writing a female character that did not adhere to what were most likely the ideals of the time period, and making her strong, willful, and independent.