In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales there are an abundance of themes, one of the more evident being marriage. In these tales the views of marriage vary. Each tale offers a different view of marriage; the views are illustrated by the characters in each pilgrim's tale. The tales regarding marriage address the infamous "Marriage Debate" in which each pilgrim gives their say on how marriage should be. Through a deceptive wife, a feminist woman, a lusty corrupt knight, and a chauvinist, Chaucer presents the contrasting views on marriage in the Medieval Age. .
The tale as well as her prologue that the Wife of bath tells, illustrates the struggle of power and dominance between men and women in marriage. " she is put forth as a feminist, her views evidence of Chaucer's feminist sensibilities- (Fleming) The Wife of Bath is a feminist; she revolts against the traditional role of women by gaining complete control of her husbands, as seen in her prologue. The Wife of Bath elaborates on how she personally always held the upper hand in her relationships. In her tale she speaks of a knight who gives his ugly old wife the choice of being either ugly and faithful, or beautiful and unfaithful. By giving his wife control of the decision, she becomes beautiful and faithful. The tale illustrates that the ideal marriage is one with the women having all control.
The tale told by the Clerk opposes the view held by the Wife of Bath. The Clerk is a chauvinist who holds true to the traditional medieval roles in marriage. The Clerk tells a tale that praises women practicing meekness, fidelity, and humility. The husband is a chauvinist who has complete control over his submissive wife. As his story further unfolds, the women Griselda appears to be the opposite of the Wife of Bath (Kitteredge.) Griselda is the epitome of a mild mannered, soft spoken, submissive wife; the Wife of Bath is the complete opposite. She is vulgar, uninhibited, crude and aggressive.