- This summary
- +380.000 other summaries
- A unique study tool
- A rehearsal system for this summary
- Studycoaching with videos
A snapshot of the summary - The wife of Bath's prologue & tale from the Canterbury tales
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.