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How does Chaucer use satire in "The Wife of Bath's Tale"?

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lehcir | Student | Valedictorian

Posted April 7, 2013 at 5:56 PM via iOS

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How does Chaucer use satire in "The Wife of Bath's Tale"?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:37 PM (Answer #1)

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The Wife of Bath satirizes women and marriage.  Though she is “ugly, elderly, and poor,” she has been married five times and is looking for a sixth.  She uses marriages to get power over men, because women do not have power otherwise.  They use sex and marriage to control their men.  Her story describes both the abusive nature of men (the knight rapes the maiden) and the romantic (the tale ends with a happy marriage). It contains a warning.

"Gentility, you then should realize,

Is not akin to things like property;

For people act with much variety,

Not like the fire that always is the same.

God knows that men may often find, for shame,             

A lord's son who's involved in villainy…”

She uses her sexuality to get what she wants, and so does the woman in her story.  The old woman becomes a beautiful young one, thus poking fun at social conventions and granting the Wife of Bath power. 

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