Geoffrey Chaucer portrays”The Wife of Bath” as the most entertaining character in “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. It is because her nature is bold. She does not hesitate enjoying company of gay companions. She promotes freedom of speech. Summary “The Wife of Bath”‘s character indicates that she the most interesting pilgrim of “Canterbury Tales” . She is well aware about her wishes and always finds ways to get it. She has a large social circle. Her friendly nature helps her getting what she wants. She may have certain flaws yet it can’t be denied that she is discourteous towards life. She is at number fifteen in the book.
Summary of “The Wife of Bath” by Geoffrey Chaucer in “Canterbury Tales”:
Like other characters, minute summary of “The Wife of Bath” is there in “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. It is well known fact that Chaucer always starts introduction of his characters with a new style. Sometimes he starts with description of clothes and sometimes he starts describing manners of a character. In case of “The Wife of Bath” Geoffrey Chaucer first tells her background and city where she lives. She is called “Wife of Bath” because she came from “Bath”, a city of south-western England. This city can still be seen on map. “Bath” city is famous for natural hot springs. In second line of the stanza, the poet clears her immense physical defect.
But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.
According to Chaucer, she is deaf, however, she has a skill of weaving clothes. In order to strength her skill in weaving, he refers two famous cities of his era; “Ypres and “Gaunt”. In his era, these two cities had famous clothes weavers. Nevertheless, Chaucer is of the view that she is better than every weaver of those cities in weaving clothes.
Geoffrey Chaucer gives summary of charitable nature of “The Wife of Bath” in “Canterbury Tales”. While explaining her contribution to “offrynge” (offerings) during offertory, he says that no women of her city can surpass her in this regard. “Offertory” is the name of offering bread and wine at Eucharist rite. If in any case, any other woman surpasses her, she looses her anger and enthusiastically crosses all limits of charity and did never let anyone surpassed.
And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she,
That she was out of alle charittee
She wears marvelous clothes. Chaucer starts with elucidation of her handkerchief. He says that her handkerchief has the finest quality texture. When Chaucer observes her scarf, he interestingly says that its worth is ten pounds or more than that. Here we see Chaucer’s minute observation. He even saw texture of her handkerchief and also her scarf. Nevertheless, everything she wears impressed Chaucer. He also observes her new soft shoes. In the same lines of “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”, Geoffrey Chaucer gives summary of physical appearance of “The Wife of Bath”. He says that she has fair bold reddish face.
Further Summary Introduction of Geoffrey Chaucer “The Wife of Bath”:
She is a worthy woman. Worthy in the sense that she is equally respected by everyone. Chaucer wants to tell more about her five husbands but he remained quiet for the reason best known to him.
Geoffrey Chaucer then gives summary of “The Wife of Bath”‘s journeys in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. He said that no holy shrine is there in the world that she had not visited. Even if she had to go beyond seas via ships or via roads, she went. Here is the list of shrines she had visited:
- Shrines of Rome (Nowadays Italy).
- Miraculous image of the Virgine Mary at Boloigne (Boulogne-sur-Mer),
- Shrine of St. James in Spain
- Shrines of Three Magi Kings in Germnay.
The poet then creates humour. He diverts attention of his readers again towards her physical appearance and says that she was “Gat-tothed”. (There was a large gap between her teeth).
At last, Chaucer elucidates her horse, her friendly nature and also her complete physical appearance. She feels comfortable on her slow-pacing horse. She wears a beautiful wimple through which she covers her neck, head and cheeks. Geoffrey Chaucer does not stop himself describing broad hips of “The Wife of Bath” which were covered with a mantle (a type of garment).
Geoffrey Chaucer sums up the character of “The Wife of Bath” in “Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” with the summary that that she knows how to dance. She has a friendly behavior and leaves no opportunity of laughing, talking and applying remedies of love.
Summary of Geoffrey Chaucer Wife of Bath in “Canterbury Tales”:
All in all, we find summary of certain characteristics of “The Wife of Bath” as described by Geoffrey Chaucer in “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. Certain characteristics of her character are as follows.
- Geoffrey Chaucer “The Wife of Bath” was deaf. She had a bold face, fair reddish color complexion, broad hips, and feet like spurs. Further, she was also gap-toothed.
- She wore the finest and expensive clothes. Even texture of her handkerchief was excellent and exceptional. She wore soft new shoes and in order to cover her hips she wore a mantle. She also wore a nice wimple to cover her head, neck and cheeks. In addition, she used to wear a buckler sized hat.
- She herself was a good weaver. Even the famous weavers of “Ypres” and “Ghent” could not exceed her in weaving.
- She had five husbands. Chaucer did not give their details. However, she was well respected in the vicinity. She wanted to remain top in the list of persons who gave charity. She could never let anyone surpass in giving alms, offerings and charity. Furthermore, Geoffrey Chaucer was of the view that “The Wife of Bath” had a friendly nature through which she left no opportunity of arguing on the topic of love. Additionally, she loved to dance. She loved company of men. Also, she had many affairs in her youth. Some people were interested in her physical appearance, whereas others in her wealth as she was a wealthy woman.
- She loved to visit holy shrines. Chaucer provides a summary list in “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” of shrines that “The Wife of Bath” had visited in her life. She even went to many other countries for this purpose. She had visited Jerusalem thrice.
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Chaucer as the Father of English Poetry, Literature and Language