What are the similarities and differences in personality between Shakespeare's character Macbeth and the female character Wife of Bath?

Some similarities between Shakespeare's Macbeth and Chaucer's Wife of Bath include their self-serving motivations and search for power. Some differences include the Wife of Bath's dominant role in her relationships, which Macbeth lacks, and Macbeth's tragic character development.

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At first sight, one might think there were no similarities at all between the Wife of Bath and Macbeth. This is partly a question of genre. Macbeth, if not a tragic hero, is at least a villain who creates tragedy for others. The Wife of Bath is primarily a comic...

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At first sight, one might think there were no similarities at all between the Wife of Bath and Macbeth. This is partly a question of genre. Macbeth, if not a tragic hero, is at least a villain who creates tragedy for others. The Wife of Bath is primarily a comic character. The other differences between the two are very clear. The Wife of Bath not only dominates her husbands, but lays out strategies for keeping them in line. Macbeth, a great soldier and a masterful figure among men, is cowed by his wife. The Wife of Bath is a solidly prosperous member of the bourgeoisie whose ambitions are limited to satisfying her own tastes and enjoying life. Macbeth is a megalomaniacal aristocrat.

These diametrically opposed personalities do have a few things in common, however. They are both strong willed and egotistical, eager to have their own way no matter the effect this may have on others. Moreover, they are both inclined to be somewhat dishonest, perhaps even with themselves, about their aims and motivations. This is most obvious in Macbeth, who blames fate, the witches and his wife for the regicide he commits. The Wife of Bath is much less extreme, but Chaucer notes her extensive travels to places such as Jerusalem and Rome, where she ostensibly goes on pilgrimage (as, indeed, she is now going to Canterbury), but really wants to enjoy the experience and see the world. This, of course, is much more benign than Macbeth's villainy, but in her modest way the Wife of Bath also follows her own will while pretending to be actuated by a higher power.

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