Compare and contrast the personalities of Chaucer's character the Wife of bath and Shakespeare's character Macbeth.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Macbeth and the Wife of Bath are alike in their intense desire for power but differ in the kind of power they want: Macbeth has a brooding, ambitious personality that wishes to control a whole country, while the Wife of Bath has a high-energy, fun-loving personality that only wants to control her own home.

Macbeth's desire to be in control, to be in charge, and to rule all of Scotland is so great that he is willing to take matters into his own hands and murder Duncan to get ahead. After he hears the witches' prophecy, he is not willing to wait for events to unfold as they will.

The two characters are alike in wanting power. They differ in how much power they want and how far they are willing to go to get it. Macbeth wants power over an entire nation; the Wife of Bath only wants to control her spouse. Macbeth is willing to kill for power; the Wife of Bath is willing to lie and manipulate, but she does not cross into murder. Macbeth has an intense, brooding, and driven personality, while the Wife of Bath has a firecracker personality—she's a woman who wants the freedom to have a good time.

Shakespeare shows through language and imagery that Macbeth's desire for control is evil, while Chaucer's language and imagery shows that the Wife of Bath's desire for control is both comic and sympathetic.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team