illustration of a clergyman with Canterbury cathedral behind him

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Start Free Trial

What does the Wife of Bath think of marriage?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Wife of Bath is one of Chaucer's most enduring characters, especially since she functions as a remarkably early example of a feminist. Indeed, the Wife seems to reject traditional notions of femininity, as she values her independence and has a refreshingly unconventional philosophy when it comes to marriage. Flouting the idea that married women should meekly submit to the authority of men, the Wife suggests that women should have the power in marriage. She cements this idea by telling a tale focused on what women want (this turns out to be sovereignty), and she ends this story with a woman winning authority and power within marriage. As such, while the Wife does not object to marriage (indeed, since she's been married five times, she seems to rather enjoy it), she does want to change traditional notions of matrimony, as is evident from her belief in the need for female sovereignty.  

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team