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Wife of bath

            Often literature can be used as a historical reference, illustrating the ways of life in a culture though stories set in a particular time period. Although the stories in the Canterbury tales are fictional, they represent many social issues and provide an intimate view of life in Medieval Europe. All the pilgrims as individuals represent a wide range of people of the 14th century English life focusing on medieval attitudes and customs in areas such as love, marriage, class and status of women.
             Throughout the Wife of Bath's Tale and Prologue we as readers acknowledge the fact that this character Chaucer has created is not like the average woman of her time. She is portrayed as the opposite of the stereotypical medieval woman. The Wife of Bath holds a high intelligence and an overwhelming ability to manipulate and control the opposite sex. She emphasizes the importance of women controlling their men in the line "How pitously a-nyght I made hem swynke!" This only announces her total control over her husbands. She is perfectly capable of attaining power over her husbands when she states "They were ful glad whan I spak to hem faire, For God it woot, I chide hem spitously." She is fully aware of the fact that she treats her husbands cruelly when she says "What sholde I taken keep hem for to plese" meaning that she is not responsible for her husbands pleasure. Despite this knowledge of inequality in the marriage this does not affect her attitude because she enjoys having the upper hand in her relationships. This further highlights the struggle of power within a marriage. In the middle ages, women had a raw deal in marriage. For almost all of history they were considered secondary to men in marriage and often regarded as merely possessions, therefore The Wife of Bath is clearly an outcast of her time. Her independent behaviour and individual beliefs undoubtedly make her stand out from the rest.

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