Essay, Research Paper: Canterbury Tales And Lady Bath

Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer

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Many characters in The Canterbury Tales are only described in the smallest
detail. Only a handful are given a physical description and even fewer are
actually given names to go by. A character that has a most descriptive detail
and also one, whom has a name, is Alice, the Wife of Bath. This majestic lady is
very proud of what she has accomplished in life. Also, to defend her ways she
uses logic and reason, Chauncer also, never judges her like he does to many
other characters, but lets her speak for herself. Although one would imagine the
Lady of Bath to be ashamed of her way of life, she simply is not. With her four
dead ex-husbands, she has received plenty of money and valuables. While married,
Chauncer gives the impression that Alice also had many affairs. These affairs
have almost definitely added to her personal wealth. Married now to her fifth
husband, who is much younger, because of love and not just dependent on how much
money he has. Throughout Aliceís storytelling, the characters tend to attack
her. She simply comes back using simple logic and reasoning. Her basic method of
thinking is that if god did not want one to have sex, he would not of given the
human race the ability to do so. The ladies behaviour is also very up-front and
she enjoys talking a great deal. Yet with having this sort of an attitude, it
gives the reader a real look at one of the most described and interesting
characters that Chauncer writes about. Most other characters from The Canterbury
Tales are judged by Chauncers personal standards and the standards from that
particular time period. Alice, the Wife of Bath however, is not judged like
this. Chauncer lets the reader decide how to judge her and create her image. He
also uses very little irony and sarcasm when he, and other characters talk about
Alice. Chauncer simply lets the reader decide how to judge her from telling of
her behaviour that was most unusual for that time period. The reader can easily
create an accurate judgment of her, mainly because of her up-front attitude
towards many aspects of life. As seen, the great Alice, Wife of Bath, is proud
of her lifestyle and will go to great lengths to defend it. She is also the only
character that the reader can judge for himself or herself with little input
from Chauncer. Perhaps being the most described character from the novel gives
one the impression that she could also be one of the most important. Her
introduction in the prologue, which is one of the longest, also indicated this.
All of these characteristics combined; let one visualize a grand picture of this
lady.
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