What is the Wife of Bath's real name and occupation?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Wife of Bath, or Alyson, is in a constant state of marriage.  Of course, she is married on the doorsteps of the church because of "company in her youth" which suggests she was a bit promiscuous as a young lady. However, it also makes her an expert in the language of love and husband acquisition.  She has married five times and states that she is on the pilgrimage in search of husband number six.   Some she loves, but all of them help make her wealthier which is why she can afford to go on all the pilgrimages she has been on...a well-traveled woman and quite independent in a time where woman did not have all the rights and privileges with which we have since become accustomed.  She is a professional wife in search of a man who will treat her as his equal...just like the woman who stars in the tale she tells on the way to Canterbury.

brendawm eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The real name of  the Wife of Bath, or the name she calls herself is both Alyson and Alys, which she states  in the prologue; as to her occupation, it seems to be that her primary purpose is to find and marry as many husbands as possible in her life.  Some husbands she loves, most husbands she dominates, but in all cases she ends up burying them and finding replacements almost immediately.

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The Canterbury Tales

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