The Wife of Bath

The main character, Alisoun, is presented as a promiscuous but equally excellent wife. She is presented as an excellent weaver and an awesome wife who has had five husbands and anticipates a sixth one (Chaucer, 2015). In this presentation, the writer takes the line of a feminist who appreciates women for who they are. Although there is debate as to the real motive of Alisoun’s description, it is clear that the character is at the very least a feminist of sorts. The wife of bath, as Alisoun is famously known, is a strong woman who is focused on what she really wants in life. During that time, women who were as aggressive as her were not looked up to but she does not mind this and is bold enough to express herself.

The writer portrays the main character as a woman who is in control of her life even when others think she is immoral. For instance, Alisoun is in control of her sexual adventures and even proclaims that she will give ‘the flour of her age’ (Chaucer, 2015) whenever she wants. In this assertion, she means that she is at liberty to lose her virginity whenever she wants although people valued virgins more. The wife of bath further insinuates that she values marriage even though she is seen to be promiscuous. This she does by claiming that she has married many men because she enjoys the fruit of marriage. In so doing, the writer portrays a woman who is not ashamed of marrying more than one husband and goes out of the conventional habit of remaining a widow.

In another instance, Alisoun is depicted as advocating for the sovereignty of women and the control of both their lives and those of their husbands. The actions of the wife of bath reflect a woman who is rebellious to the male-dominated society that habitually controlled women. The writer seems to pass the message that women should decide on their course of actions and not be subjected to their husband’s authority. Essentially, the wife of bath asserts that the woman owns her husband and that the husband owes the wife. Although she goes overboard in claiming that men should bow to their wives, it is only to express the fact that women are also important. In this way, the writer expresses feminist thoughts through the book’s main character.

The writer uses the character of Alisoun in tackling the antifeminism that was deeply rooted in the church. The mastery of the bible depicted in the wife of bath is an important tool in disregarding the basis under which the antifeminism was anchored. Alisoun argues that there is no scripture in the bible that prohibits more than one marriage and goes on to quash suggestions that the bible quote bible verses. Further she reaches out to common sense arguing that if everyone were to remain a virgin, there would be no one to give birth to new virgins.

In building the character of Alisoun, the writer is communicating a message of feminism at a time when it was not widely accepted. Even when he portrays the wife of bath in bad light, it is probably to tone down and avoid criticism from people who’d view him as a complete feminist. Generally, the writer uses the book to tackle the antifeminism that was being advanced through the church at the time. The wife of bath presents a pivotal character in advancing this theme and the writer does this only too perfectly.



Works cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Wife of Bath. , 2015. Print.

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