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One of Chaucer's significant themes in The Canterbury Tales is marriage, and the Wife of Bath garrulously discusses her many marriages in which she assumed the dominant role. Before she begins her tale, she satirizes the friar, indicating quickly that she hates to be controlled. Here are two images that tie the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale:
- The Wife of Bath is a loquacious and bawdy woman whose lengthy Prologue is interrupted by the Friar, whom the Summoner accuses of "always stick[ing] his nose in the broth. Angered also, the Wife of Bath asks if she my have leave"from our worthy Friar to begin the tale" (855). In The Wife of Bath's Tale, then, the Wife of Bath damages the friar's reputation as she alludes in the beginning to "A friar-begger," stating, "...he's no rapist: all he does is dishonor." Thus, she connects the friar to both the Prologue and Tale, and she certainly discredits him as a man of the cloth in the Tale as she states, "And he's no rapist: all he does is dishonor."
- Another image that prevails in both the Prologue and the Tale itself is that of Venus, the Roman goddess who had the role of paragon of love, beauty, sex, fertility and prosperity. The allusions to her establish the Wife of Bath's role over her men as one of dominance and great sexuality and desire. In the Prologue, the Wife of Bath alludes to her "chamber/Of Venus [that] was open to any man who was able" (617-618). Then, in The Wife of Bath's Tale, the image of the woman's dominance and sexuality is evoked again as the old woman who has convinced the young man to submit to her transforms into "A woman lovely as any empress or queen" (386).
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