In the wife of bath prologue the wife of Bath has many new ideas of marriage; these ideas mostly are looked down on upon by the church and the ideals of that time. Her ideas are rebellious and reflect a more modern prospective focused on the woman having a more profound voice in decisions. She goes against many of the churches ideas by believing that virginity is not required and she doesn’t accept the doctrine that a widow or a widower must not marry again. She has no will to emulate the lives of priests and saints.
However she admits that chastity is the most ideal way to follow but it is not her ideal. These are some of her ideas on marriage that were very questionable by the people of her time. Independence was the central reason for most of the marital conflicts she had. The wife of bath was a very independent woman; this caused wealth and property to become a major factor in her choice of who to marry, because she wanted to be able to “get by” on her own even if she had to do it with her husband’s money.
Her first three husbands were called the “rich and old” were married each for “his land and his treasure” then discarded as the she looked for other prospects. When one of these husbands tried to restrict the wife’s spending she refused to let him be both “master of my body and of my good” so refuses sexual favors in return for her freedom as she will not become a possession. She generalizes that women “love no man that take or keep charge” suggesting an element of her independence. The idea of a woman becoming more independent is a step in the right direction in finding the perfect equilibrium for marriage.
But having her marry only for wealth is not the way to accomplish her goal of achieving independence because if she marries only for money she is the one being dependant on her husband’s money. The wife of bath also touches upon a very sensitive subject at the time which was sex and virginity. The women at this time were very reserved and did not talk about there sex lives much. The wife of bath however was very open with the subject by frequently using sayings like “chamber of Venus”.
She did not only talk about sex she even used it to control her husbands by refusing them favors in order for them to appreciate her more. She refers to sex as necessary for human procreation due to the low population from the plague. She goes against the idea of virginity by arguing that sexual organs were not only made to “purge urine” or comically “to know a female from a male”. She concludes that sex within marriage is acceptable and in wifehood she will use her “instrument as freely as the Maker hath it sent”.
She tries to establish married women to be as important as virgins for, she argues, where would the next generation of virgins come from? This offers us wisdom not to regard sex as a bad and frowned upon activity but a good thing in marriage. The aspects of marriage portrayed in the Wife of Bath’s prologue feature heavily around sexual pleasure and wealth. Her description shows the struggle for power causes conflict, occasional violence and abuse; all the while she is justifying her lifestyle and fighting for female equality.
Despite love, or trust as deceit and affairs that seem to be commonplace the Wife of Bath’s description of married life is very much a comical one, which she does seem to enjoy especially because she achieves fulfillment. These aspects can offer some wisdom in her prospective to find the perfect relationship. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Geoffrey Chaucer section.