Compare and contrast the personalities of Mary Rowlandson and the Wife of Bath from "The Wife of Bath's Tale" with evidence from the text.

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The most obvious grounds for comparison between Mary Rowlandson and the Wife of Bath lie in their resilience and strength of character. Rowlandson is known for a specific ordeal that she endured: her eleven-week captivity at the hands of Native Americans. She also suffered various other traumas, including witnessing the violent deaths of family and friends. The tribulations of the Wife of Bath are far less sensational. She has had five husbands and a wide experience of life generally, traveling widely to places including Jerusalem and Rome. However, although these are places of pilgrimage, the Wife of Bath is more interested in seeing the world than in religious observances.

There are two important points of contrast with Mary Rowlandson here. First, Rowlandson's adventures were thrust upon her. She certainly did not seek them out for the sake of experience. Second, Rowlandson appears to have been genuinely devout. She is always writing about the comfort that religion brings her in the midst of her sorrows. When separated from her children, she writes,

My son was ill, and I could not but think of his mournful looks, and no Christian friend was near him, to do any office of love for him, either for soul or body. And my poor girl, I knew not where she was, nor whether she was sick, or well, or alive, or dead. I repaired under these thoughts to my Bible (my great comfort in that time) and that Scripture came to my hand, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee" (Psalm 55.22).

Rowlandson here displays the attitude of the ideal Puritan, whereas there is nothing remotely Puritan about the Wife of Bath, who quotes Scripture when it serves her purpose but is perfectly happy to ignore it when it does not.

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