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Canterbury Tales - The Wife of Bath

            Of all the narratives listed in The Canterbury Tales, the characters described in the Wife of Bath's story stand out among the others, and it is interesting to examine this tale while also comparing it to the current state of the women's rights movement. While this tome was written in 1475, over 500 years ago, it is very clear that the desire to bridge the gap in gender inequality was still very much on the minds of the public. In this tale, the Wife of Bath and several others journey toward Canterbury, telling stories to one another to pass the time along the way. In the beginning, the narratives are deliberately described in a vulgar and explicit manner in order to provoke and instigate a shocking response from the contemporaneous audience, who-at the time-were those who had very concrete Christian-based beliefs. A parallel could be made here to the mindset of Western women in the 1950s as well, when females in America strove to be, more or less, the perfect homemakers and wives for their husbands. However, as we well know, times have changed drastically and this is no longer the goal of most people today. And apparently it also was not close to the goal of at least some people in 1400s England, as can be attested to in Wife of Bath's prologue when she explains what women want most, which she deems is complete and total control (described in the tale as sovereignty). .
             The Wife of Bath is a confident, honest, strong willed woman-very distinctive, somewhat aggressive in speaking her mind and showcasing her worldly savvy. Because of the era this story was written in and the predominantly male-dominated society the characters were sure to have live amongst, it is clear that the Wife of Bath existed way ahead of her time. Unlike most women of the period are usually depicted, she knows what she wants, she has travelled the world and has been married five times previously, with much experience; and the last thing she desires for herself is to be bossed around by a man (Patterson 656).

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