Essay Sample on Marriage and Dominance in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath prologue" and "The Wife of Baths Tale"

Published: 2023-03-01
Essay Sample on Marriage and Dominance in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath prologue" and "The Wife of Baths Tale"
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Relationship Character analysis Comparative literature
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1236 words
11 min read

In the Canterbury Tales, authored by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath appears to be of more lively character on the pilgrimage. Dame Alice airs her radical views regarding women and marriage in a period when women are anticipated to be passive towards men. There are various similarities that display the comparison between the Prologue and the Tale as the dominance of women over their husbands.

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In the Wife of Bath's Prologue by Chaucer, Alisoun is the Wife of five husbands (Chaucer 22). The first four husbands are older than her, while the last is nearly half her age. Even though she sells cloths to make her daily income, she confesses that she makes most of her earnings from her husband through deceit. The husbands of Alisoun do not submit to her out of love for her beauty as she anticipates. She beats her fifth husband till submission, crucifies her philandering fourth on account of jealousy, and outwits her three horny husbands through deceit, attacking their loyalty to extort payment for the marriage debt (Chaucer 533). The marriages of Alisoun are battles because she fights them till she wins the rights to rule, after which she oversees the regulation of marital assets and the stipulation of the marriage debt. She sexually abuses her first four husbands. She gives a clue that she desires to see her fourth husband dead and curtails her fifth's reading. Alisoun pitches them into their purgatory, understanding the right to rule in her hell. She defies her anticipations and is viewed as devoted Christians. Alisoun presents herself critically in her prologue. She blinds herself to her immorality with her verbose diatribe, classical literature, and mythology to fit her prompt needs. By interpreting the tale of Alison as the fulfillment of wishes, however, the audience can understand for a handle to her hopes and motives. The hag capitalizes on a means to an end, to be youthful and gorgeous. As she gets older, the fading characteristics of Alisoun will not sustain her narcissism. For Alisoun to love herself, it is mandatory to be beautiful, even if in the behold of her next husband.

In the Wife of Bath's Tale, many women, including the Queen and the old hag, stance their power over men. However, they do this is a very covert way. The knight has abused his male power. He is a rapist. With the assistance of women, he is rehabilitated and appear to attain the ultimate happiness. When these women back up the feminist point of view that women should have mastery over their husbands, they also air their sentiments, the Wife of Bath highlights in her prologue. Moreover, these women leave their mastery of the period they attain old. The old hag surrenders mastery back to her husband after he assigns it to her. From that point on, she respects his every command. This ending could be a form of female servitude, or it could a mutually beneficial and enjoyable marriage.

The sex in the tale of Wife of Bath and the tale of the knight got nothing to do with the craving but with the power of dominance. The rape in the Knight scenario shows that the knight is exercising his power over the woman. The act of rape is demonstrated as an effort to regain the lost authority (Huppe 378). In the wife's prologue, it is the depicting of the power of domination. Alisoun dominated her five husbands merely with the weapon of sex. The theme of dominance comes from the tale and fourteen-century society. At that moment, there were very few instances of women who could have dominated the opposite sex. The stringent rules and regulations of medieval society put them in a position whereby they had no more choices but to respect (Coghen 175). The Wife of Bath challenged the suppressive authorities. She determines and dominates her five husbands and attempts to regulate male texts, possessing them, and making twists to suit her interests.


The views of marriage expressed in both Tale and Prologue are those of the wife. There is a person that can speak from such personal experience as the Wife of Bath, and this experience is the topic of her lengthy yet chaotic prologue. The vitality of the author's portrait of the wife and the assurance he provides her in articulating the case for the mastery of the wives over their husbands show at least sympathy, if not agreement, with her standpoint.

The disparity is the results of the marriages of Hag and Alison in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" rely on the differing anticipations of the women over their husbands. The hag's modus agendi depends upon the obligation of a knight to honor his pledge while the modus operandi of Alison relies on the behavior of her husband after marriage. Hag asks for consent from the knight to be his wife after saving her. It is a mandate for the knight to marry as marrying hug lies within his power.

In the Wife of Bath's Tale, the churches at that period are permitted to engage in sex when married only. If possible, they would not allow individuals to marry. A religious and social rank was developed by the church, starting from virgin to married individuals. It was meant to believe that God loves virgins than married people (Chaucer, 76). The Wife of Bath vehemently criticizes the hierarchy and safeguards the condition and advantages of marriage. The tale revolves around marriage.

In Wife of Bath's prologue, it starts like a sermon. It then takes on terminologies of misogyny and misogamy as the wife describes her first three marriages, illustrating her success in manipulating the marriage system to her advantage as a mode to consolidate money and power. When the wife airs discussions about her fourth and fifth husbands, the prologue becomes more personal capitalizing on the role of love in marriage and its linkage to gender hierarchy. In her prologue, the Wife safeguards marriage against religious teachings that contend that it is inferior to celibacy, upholding the relationship between sex and marriage through embracing a more contemporary perspective that sexual pleasure is a virtue and repudiating the notion that wives should respect their husbands (Chaucer 58). The prologue highlights the challenges to the agency of women posed by medieval marriage and in contrast, the manners in which medieval marriage practices could be manipulated to empower women (Coghen 175).


Arguably, the theme of marriage and dominance has been illustrated in Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Wife of Bath prologue" and The Wife of Baths Tale." The examples shown have confirmed that women had more power than men. In the Wife of Bath's prologue, Alisoun controlled her five husbands and made them appear like puppets before her. She solicited money from them in the name of loyalty. In the wife of Bath's Tale, the knight and the old hag demonstrated the dominance of women over men women. Compared to Alisoun, Knight and the old hag expressed their dominance covertly. The book is so enjoyable for audiences who love to understand the challenges of marriage.

Work Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The wife of Bath's prologue and tale. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Coghen, Monika. "Rewriting Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale from Dryden, through Voltaire, to Niemcewicz: Medievalism or Modernisation?." Studia Litteraria Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis 12.3 (2017): 175-185.

Huppe, Bernard F. "Rape and Woman's Sovereignty in the Wife of Bath's Tale." Modern Language Notes 63.6 (1948): 378-381.

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Essay Sample on Marriage and Dominance in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath prologue" and "The Wife of Baths Tale". (2023, Mar 01). Retrieved from

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