Is there consistency in the Wife of Bath's arguments?

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There is consistency in the Wife of Bath's arguments regarding marriage. She claims that there is nothing wrong with her five marriages and that choosing to marry can make one as morally or spiritually sound as choosing chastity. Her contemporary medieval society would have the Wife join a convent after...

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There is consistency in the Wife of Bath's arguments regarding marriage. She claims that there is nothing wrong with her five marriages and that choosing to marry can make one as morally or spiritually sound as choosing chastity. Her contemporary medieval society would have the Wife join a convent after the death of her first husband, but she argues that she can be just as religious while marrying again. She is certainly defending her actions and her successive marriages more than marriage itself, yet she is consistent in the arguments she makes.

She uses the Bible to justify marriage and even to justify intimacy. She tells the pilgrims that marriage can be beneficial for women, though in her examples, it is not so beneficial for men. Women can gain independence and even land and money through marriage, and they can use sex to have power over their husbands as well. She demonstrates this with the stories of her five husbands. The actual story she chooses to tell the pilgrims for her tale is a medieval romance that emphasizes that the key to a happy marriage is for the man to allow his wife to have control.

Her arguments are consistent with her story, though they are not consistent with the moral and social expectations of the times. She is anachronistic in her overt feminism, yet she still charms the narrator and some of the other pilgrims on the journey as she looks for her next husband.

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