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The Wife of Bath’s Tale

The Wife of Bath’s Tale is complicated even though tale is shorter than the prologue. Before getting to her tale, she tells a great deal about herself. Loves to talk. She is a willful woman. She is a woman of size, volume and attitude, and like the other pilgrims and their tales, her tale too matches her personality. She has a fair face, a bold face, a red face. She has a gap between her front teeth, which in medieval times was considered sensuous. She has outlived five husbands and is on this pilgrimage to find her sixth. Her first three husbands were old and rich. They let her run the marriage and they are happy. The fourth husband has another woman on the side. She is losing her beauty. Her fifth husband was younger and she was passionate about him. She married a real man. She is a troubled soul, and Chaucer takes pity on her. She too has a soul to save. She admits to loneliness, a heart that is softening. She is open to spiritual guidance and can now use the help of a good priest. Her tale comes just before the Parson’s Tale, a good priest.

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