Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chaucer Fuss - The Wife of Bath's Tale

I think most people vision medieval England as an era of strict morality, high religion, and chastity belts. And, to be honest, medieval England does not bear a resemblance to the highly sexualized culture of contemporary England. However, the England of the 1300s was sexualized in its own way.

"The Wife of Bath's Tale" portrays the sexual life of a woman from Bath. Morality and virginity were important aspects of medieval culture. Yet, culture is a fluid concept and there remained a flexibility for women to exert dominance within these confines.

You could consider the Wife of Bath as a 'cougar.' In an era where young teenage girls married older men, the Wife of Bath contests that women should marry men who are young and meek. And marry men, she did. The Wife of Bath describes her countless deceased husbands and her unquenchable appetite for sexual pleasure throughout the tale. The Wife of Bath also suggests that women should make the decisions in relationships - a happy woman makes a happy man.

I admit that "The Wife of Bath's Tale" was one of my favourite stories in The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer creates a vivid landscape while expertly delving into women's issues. The Wife of Bath gives readers both food for thought and a wealth of entertainment.

Bibliographical Reference:
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2006.

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