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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The Wife of Bath chose some of her husbands based on what they could bequeath to her. What characteristic did these husbands share?

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The Wife of Bath's first three husbands share the characteristics of being old, rich, and subservient to her—she refers to their catering to her as being "good." They also all seem to have trouble in bed. She quickly gains the upper hand over all of them, and they do her bidding in order to keep her happy. She is a well-to-do woman because she inherits money from all three of these men when they die.

The Wife of Bath also gains the upper hand with her fourth husband, even though he has an affair with another woman. She makes him jealous by causing him to think she is having an affair with another man.

By the time she's on her fifth husband, the Wife of Bath can marry who she wants, and she chooses a much younger man. This ends up being a mistake, as he dominates her and even beats her.

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