two-faced woman with one half having dark hair and older features and the other half having blonde hair and younger features

The Wife of Bath's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer
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In The Wife of Bath's Tale, which quote shows that the Wife of Bath is a comical character? Is the Wife of Bath superstitious? What other character traits can we use to describe her?

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The Wife of Bath is a comical character in her frank description of why she marries, how she controls her elderly husbands, her take on sex—she doesn't love the "bacon" of older men—and the way she is unable to control the one younger husband she does marry for love and lust. Of this husband, she says, with some comedy,

He was, I trowe, twenty winter old,
And I was fourty, if I shal seye sooth;
But yet I hadde alwey a coltes tooth.

A colt's tooth is a young person's (a colt is young) sexual desire: we can experience amusement over the Wife of Bath, having amassed her fortune through marrying and inheriting from a series of older men, now finally being able to marry a younger man to suit herself—and then having it not work out. We can also laugh at her open lustiness when she wishes she could have multiple husbands just as men in the Bible had multiple wives. It is her brash, outspoken frankness that startles us and makes us laugh: she doesn't pretend to be pious, she doesn't hide her manipulations or her vulnerabilities, and she lays out her life in an audacious way that leaves us happily entertained and enlivened.

The Wife of Bath is not particularly superstitious. She is practical, hard-headed, and materialistic. She is a reasoner, a thinker—she holds to a medieval version of feminist principles. Although her tale has supernatural elements, she is clear in distinguishing its fantasy from the real world.

The Wife of Bath is outspoken and well-to-do; she wears bright colors and likes to have a good time and get her way.

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