The Canterbury Tales 12: The Wife of Bath's Tale Questions and Answers

Geoffrey Chaucer

12: The Wife of Bath's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. At what age was the Wife of Bath first married?

2. Name two arguments that the Wife uses in her defense of the married state.

3. What is the Wife's "philosophy" of marriage?

4. How has the Wife changed as she has aged?

5. In what way were her fourth and fifth husbands different from the first three?

6. What ongoing argument begins in this prologue?

7. What type of tale does the Wife tell?

8. For what crime is the young knight being punished?

9. Why is it fitting that this tale should be told by the Wife of Bath?

10. How does the ending of the story reconcile with the Wife's philosophy?

Answers
1. The Wife of Bath was 12 when she first married.

2. Her arguments for marriage include: God would not have given humans sexual organs if He did not intend for them to be used, and many people have too much sexual energy for the celibate state.

3. The wife must control the marriage in all areas.

4. She is less attractive and less energetic.

5. The first three were old and easy to control; the last two were young and tried to control her.

6. The feud between the Friar and the Summoner.

7. A cross between a folktale and a romance.

8. He has ravished (raped) a young maiden.

9. It concerns a young man marrying an old woman.

10. In the end, the young man gives in entirely to his wife and realizes the advantages of marrying an older woman.