High School Teacher
(Level 1) Honors
Posted October 30, 2008 at 7:15 AM (Answer #1)
The Wife of Bath is a very modern woman, mostly in that she does not care what others think of her. She wants to be the most important. "In all the parish not a dame dared stir/ Towards the altar step is front of her" (459-60). But she is upfront about who she which is why I think Chaucer respects her more than others. She certainly was more modern in her youth with a number of men before she was married (471).
Her tales gives us the best depiction of what a modern woman wants. Although I would argue that the Wife may want to be above her husbands, she at least wants to on equal footing and have control over her life. She has travelled extensively and is currently on this pilgrimage by herself which is virtually unheard of for this timeframe. I think most women today agree with her idea of what women want.
As a side note, I appreciate that she is a bit harsh on many women as being indecisive in what they want. I think there is a lesson for men as well which is that it's okay if you don't always know what women what; they don't either.
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