What is the difference between the women from the Wife of Bath's Tale and modern women?  i know that women today are more independent and they challenge themselves. While the women in the tale she...

What is the difference between the women from the Wife of Bath's Tale and modern women?  

i know that women today are more independent and they challenge themselves. While the women in the tale she is more reliable on their husbands

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

This is a tricky one to answer because The Wife of bath's Tale by Geffrey Chaucer itself is tricky! There has been much debate about it recently and the manuscript itself has been studied in minute detail. At first it looks like the wife is different from the subservient, dependent women around her. She seeems to be a free thinker, she speaks her mind and has strength and motivation. Women in her day were totally dependent on men, whether it be father, brother or husband for their livelihood. Most knew their place, although in reality many poor women raised children and wove,farmed,grew herbs and tended animals too. In spite of this hard life and work, they were still second-class citizens to men - even if they were rich their dowries went to their new husband.So in his Tales Chaucer looks at first to be for women's rights. yet he has the Wife admit to a bit of 'gold-digging' herself. She also seems to go along with the theory that women have less reasonable thought than men! I think she's a bit mixed up - just like a lot of us today!

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I don't know that there's such a huge difference between modern women (I'm talking about the US, here) and the women portrayed in the Wife of Bath's tale.  The women in the tale are actually a lot more independent than I think you are giving them credit for.

The women in this tale seem to me to belong more to our times than to what I think medieval times were like.  You say that the women in the tale rely on their husbands.  I think they only pretend to rely on them when actually they control the relationships.

I'm not saying that women today need to control their husbands through sex and trickery.  But what I am saying is that the women in the tale do not just submit to their husbands.  They use their wits, their determination (and their sexual charms) to get their way.

So the difference I see is that the women in the tale are in a society where they have to pretend to be submissive.  But they are just pretending -- they are really assertive and strong.  In our society, women no longer have to pretend (for the most part) to submit to their husbands.

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