The Wife of Bath is one of the star characters of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. We first meet her in the Prologue, where the narrator gives us a good sense of her appearance and personality. The Wife, he tells us, is somewhat deaf, but she is an excellent cloth-maker and business woman. She is also quite prideful, not wanting anyone in church to go before her in the offering (and becoming angry if someone dares to).
The Wife presents a colorful picture with her scarlet stockings, fine kerchief, new shoes (complete with a pair of sharp spurs), large wimple and hat, and bountiful skirts. She is not a beautiful woman, for she is quite stout and has a wide gap in her teeth.
This is a woman who has been around the block a few times, in more ways then one. She has had five husbands already (and some extra company in her youth), and she knows all the tricks when it comes to love. Yet she has also traveled on many pilgrimages, even as far as Rome and Jerusalem. She is a woman who seems to latch onto the enjoyments of life, and she knows how to laugh and chat with others.
Indeed, the Wife of Bath is a colorful, interesting individual, a blend of bawdiness and piety, outspoken and larger than life, and she reveals Chaucer's extraordinary talent for creating fascinating characters.