Many characters in The Canterbury Tales are only described in the smallest detail. Only a handful are given a physical description and even fewer are actually given names to go by.
A character that has a most descriptive detail and also one, whom has a name, is Alice, the Wife of Bath. This majestic lady is very proud of what she has accomplished in life. Also, to defend her ways she uses logic and reason, Chauncer also, never judges her like he does to many other characters, but lets her speak for herself. Although one would imagine the Lady of Bath to be ashamed of her way of life, she simply is not. With her four dead ex-husbands, she has received plenty of money and valuables. While married, Chauncer gives the impression that Alice also had many affairs.
These affairs have almost definitely added to her personal wealth. Married now to her fifth husband, who is much younger, because of love and not just dependent on how much money he has. Throughout Alice’s storytelling, the characters tend to attack her. She simply comes back using simple logic and reasoning.
Her basic method of thinking is that if god did not want one to have sex, he would not of given the human race the ability to do so. The ladies behaviour is also very up-front and she enjoys talking a great deal. Yet with having this sort of an attitude, it gives the reader a real look at one of the most described and interesting characters that Chauncer writes about.
Most other characters from The Canterbury Tales are judged by Chauncers personal standards and the standards from that particular time period. Alice, the Wife of Bath however, is not judged like this. Chauncer lets the reader decide how to judge her and create her image. He also uses very little irony and sarcasm when he, and other characters talk about Alice. Chauncer simply lets the reader decide how to judge her from telling of her behaviour that was most unusual for that time period.
The reader can easily create an accurate judgment of her, mainly because of her up-front attitude towards many aspects of life. As seen, the great Alice, Wife of Bath, is proud of her lifestyle and will go to great lengths to defend it. She is also the only character that the reader can judge for himself or herself with little input from Chauncer. Perhaps being the most described character from the novel gives one the impression that she could also be one of the most important. Her introduction in the prologue, which is one of the longest, also indicated this.
All of these characteristics combined; let one visualize a grand picture of this lady.