The Wife of Bath's Gender Representation

280 views 6 pages ~ 1380 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Women are represented as desiring power over men in Chaucer Geoffrey's The Wife of Bath. The woman of Bath is unattractive, but she has the ability to manipulate her husband because she is rich. In the story, she is quoted as saying, "I don't doubt that I will make my husband both my debtor and my slave" (Chaucer 157). In other words, she declares that she will have complete power over her five husbands as well as their respective households. Women are often portrayed as submissive to their husbands. This statement is evidenced in the tale when the wife of Bath accepts that she would satisfy her man's physical pleasure. The statement is also against the beliefs of feminism because she is giving in to the desires of men. In this case, it shows that the wife of bath will submit to her husband as a way of letting him have pleasure for his desires and not hers. In the story, women are presented as both submissive and aggressive to fight for their rights in the society while men are supposed to control them.

The wife of bath reveals that women are represented as radical, controlling, and focused to satisfy their own desires first before thinking about those of men. She tells her companions how she had sexual experiences with five different husbands. She had two categories of husbands, the rich, but old and that could not fulfill her sexual desires and the other category of husbands that could satisfy her sexual desires, but she was unable to control them. The five relationships never lasted for long due to her thirst of having power and control over them. Her radical trait is seen when the fifth husband beats her (Chaucer, 796). As a way of showing her anger, she tears some pages from his storybook, which makes him beats her more. Eventually, she burns the book infuriating her husband more. Prioress, on the other hand, is represented as educated, well mannered as well as loving. She is a woman who would never deceive her husband like the wife of bath. Chaucer says that 'sexual demands' will never be in the prioress's life as she has taken the vow of chastity (Chaucer 201). The wife of bath is represented as a medieval woman who is shameless about her sexual desires, which she is using to obtain her wishes. In this context, women are seen as manipulative and deceitful than men. The wife of bath manipulates men for sex because she has power over them. Women are very different from men because they are seen as untrustworthy creatures that cannot be trusted, and above all, they cause the downfall of men by appealing to their desires. Women are also different from men in that they wear clothes to show off on Sundays. The wife of bath does this since she thinks that she is powerful and influential in the society. She wants to be noticed and respected by everybody for her ability to dominate her husbands' lives.
Women are presented as people who can live independently and accumulate power. The wife of bath believes strongly in herself as well as in her experience rather than believing in written authority that she thinks was written by men. She does not want her fifth husband to control her, and when she finds out that he likes reading a book on the wicked woman, she destroys it (Chaucer, 790). The wife of bath is also powerful because she has been using her wealth that she got from her widowed husband to manipulate other men that she marries. Prioress is also independent because she has accumulated many traits that men would like but they cannot have her. She is very elegant, loving and well mannered, well educated, and able to speak the noble language. However, women are not able to choose their husbands since the first four husbands of the wife of bath were very old but rich. She left them only when they died after which she remarried only. Women are not able to control men fully though they are seeking power to achieve the goal. However, it is not easy to manipulate them because they dislike it and fights to be the heads of their families as it is in many societies. For example, the fifth husband is uncontrollable as the wife of bath says that she is on her way to marry the sixth because she is unable to control him. He was half her age, and their marriage is unhappy because he beats her. The beatings cause frequent disagreements and make her more rebellious to her husband. In this case, the wife of bath is unable to control the young husband because she is getting old and cannot deceive him with her beauty, which is simply fading away (Chaucer 439). Women are also not able to live without men since the wife of bath marries one husband after the other following their deaths. Although her fifth husband is younger than she is, she still thinks of marrying a sixth one since she makes independent decisions regarding her life. The wife of bath has to fulfill her sexual desires and is looking for a young man that cad satisfy her.
In the Wife of Bath, men are expected to chastise women. They should also ensure that they control women to reduce their ability of tempting them. In addition, men should take care of their wives and families as the breadwinners in accordance with the societal norms (Chaucer 436). In this case, wife beating is considered by the law as legal since it is a way of disciplining disrespectful wives and ensuring that they obey all men's commands. Men believe that women are weak in nature and cannot behave well without beatings from their husbands. This means that allowing women to do things in their way is not spiritual in this society. It shows that the fifth husband is following the law when beats the wife of bath.
Men are not expected to be scared by women, but are expected to be powerful. However, in the wife of bath, women overpower men thereby scaring them and making them feel inferior. For example, the name of Prioress alone suggests a person who is superior in a monastic community. This scares away men interested to talk to her due to her high class. Men also fear her since she is educated, well mannered as well as powerful. The husband number five beats his wife, as an example of showing her that she cannot dominate him (Chaucer 440). He is exercising his male chauvinism of dominating the woman. He believes that women are inferior creatures who should always be submissive to their husbands by serving all their needs. As a result, the wife of bath destroys the book that he is reading that discriminates woman in the society. Men are supposed to keep women under their control since they are considered the masters. They are also expected to be more patient and understanding than women when dealing with the latter are. The Wife of Bath reveals that men have more reasoning than women do and they should be patient with them all the time.
The Wife of Bath portrays masculinity and femininity in various ways in a society that women are discovering their relevance. For instance, men are supposed to be very kind and patient to women and the wife of bath knows this therefore expects her husband number five to be patient with her and stop beating her. Her husband dislikes the idea and continues to read literature that condemns women behavior to make her furious. She also expects her husband to be faithful to her and avoid any relationship with other women. Other women such as Prioress are educated and consider themselves belonging to a high class. In this case, men are afraid to approach them due to their high-class and the level of education. Men and women are trying to fight for their rights and freedoms in a society that considers the role of a man very crucial. However, education is giving women a chance to prove their capabilities and importance in the communities they live in.
_x005F Works Cited
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The wife of Bath. Simon and Schuster, 2012. Print.

September 11, 2021

Life Literature


Hero Books

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Wife of Bath
Verified writer

Nixxy is accurate and fun to cooperate with. I have never tried online services before, but Nixxy is worth it alone because she helps you to feel confident as you share your task and ask for help. Amazing service!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories