Summary The wife of Bath's prologue & tale from the Canterbury tales Book cover image

Summary The wife of Bath's prologue & tale from the Canterbury tales

- Geoffrey Chaucer, et al
ISBN-10 052146689X ISBN-13 9780521466899
79 Flashcards & Notes
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A snapshot of the summary - The wife of Bath's prologue & tale from the Canterbury tales Author: Geoffrey Chaucer introduction, notes, and glossary James Winny revised Sean Kane and Beverly Winny ISBN: 9780521466899

  • 1 The Tale

  • No one other than Arthur is named, what does this say about the significance of the characters?

    Their significance rests on the idea they represent, not in their individual lives/ personalities.

  • How is female domination over male presented in the tale? How do some people see this?

    The hag + the queen and her female court i.e. the Knight is set off on a quest not on King Arthur's instigation but that of the queen = some see this as feminism in action before its time

  • How is the quest in WOB different from traditional chivalric quests?

    Chivalric quests typically involve the acquisition of significant wisdom  and increased honour through a display of endurance of hardship - although no honour is involved in the quest in the Wife of Bath, just the possibility of staying alive.

  • What can be said about the moral at the end of the tale?

    Chaucer leaves the moral ambiguous - did the Knight deserve a young beautiful wife?

  • What imagery does the hag use to show that wealth does not indicate moral value? What does she say about those who are wealthy?

    Tullius - low rank and rose to become King

    Those who are wealthy are full of greed and corruption

  • What do critics argue that the tale's primary intention is?

    To subvert our expectations of a traditional fairytale or courtly medieval romance.

  • What can be said about the hag's character?

    The hag articulates the most rigorous intellectual processes and is more noble than the knight.

  • What can be said about the Knight's first encounter with the hag? Where did it take place?

    He encounters the hag in desperation - the complete reverse encounter with the maiden. It takes place in a forest - often places of radical transformation.

  • How long is the 'gentillesse' lecture? What would the modern and medieval audiences think of this?

    It covers 1/4 of the tale = a little excessive for the modern reader - Medieval audiences expected a moral to their stories.

  • Romances often end with a reference to God, what can be said about the WOB's reference?

    She uses "Jhesu" and "God" as agents of her desire (she asks Jesus to cut her husband's lives short = amusingly frank) + the misuse of the word "grace" - her hopes expressed are articulated in unchristian terms.

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