Feb 14th- “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue”

Throughout “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue” Alisoun establishes a strong character that is revolutionary for Geoffrey Chaucer’s era. Near the end of the prologue Alisoun shares a memory from her relationship with her fifth husband; the husband begins, ” ‘Deere suster Alisoun, As help me God, I shall thee nevere smite. That I have doon, it is thyself to wyte. Foryeve it me, and that I thee biseke.’ And yet eftsoones I hitte him on the cheke, And seyde, ‘Theef, thus muchel am I wreke. Now wol I die. I may no lenger speke.’ ” (Chaucer, page 72, lines 804-810). Considering the reactions the other pilgrims have to the wife of bath throughout her prologue, what does Alisoun’s behavior in this scene suggest about the nature of men and women in Chaucer’s culture? Also, how does this incident relate to the statements the wife of bath makes about self-worth in the prologue?

2 thoughts on “Feb 14th- “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue”

  1. I think it showed what an empowered woman could really accomplish at that time, as men were not used to strong, confident women. Alisoun realized the man she loved was becoming distanced from her, so she brought the love out of him that he had refused to show. Going with the old phrase, “bringing the best out of the one you love” would go well when describing this passage, because as he was becoming more enamored with his book then the one he loved, she wanted to show him where his priorities should be. She displays strength as she is unafraid of the pain of getting hit or the possibility of him leaving her, showing courage and fearlessness as she fights for the man she cares for. This resulted in him straightening up his act, realizing what he was doing wrong, and marrying her, and she was able to be happy knowing he showed his affection once again. “By God, if wommen hadde writen stories,/As clerkes han withinne hire oratories,/They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse/Than all the mark of Adam may redresse.”(p. 68. Lines 693-696) She shows here that she wishes men would own up to their wrongdoings at this time and wishes they would try to make up for these wrongdoings as her fifth husband did in the story. She displays the act of selflessness to prove his selfishness, and this act was able to hit him on an emotional level. This shows her sense of self-worth in that she knows that what she is fighting for is right and she just wants their love to have equal effort put in on both sides.

  2. I believe that in this passage Chaucer shows the Wife of Bath to be a woman who was probably very different from the other women of her time, she is a woman unafraid to be a participant in her own marriage instead of just standing by and letting things happen as her husband lays them out. So as far as the relationship between most men and women at this time she is very different in the fact that she calls for equality during a time when there isn’t much between the sexes even in a marriage. I also believe that this message of equality between partners is a main theme of the Wife of Bath’s prologue.

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