The Wife of Bath`s Tale

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The Wife of Bath’s
Tale
The Cure to all Love’s Ills
Quick Discussion
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Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: a
promise should never be broken? Explain.
What is more important faithfulness or beauty? You have to
pick one, explain your choice.
How far would you go to save your life?
Do the wealthy live above the law? Explain.
Does the class a person comes from make a difference in their
character? Explain.
What is the most important factor in a happy marriage?
What do women want… most?
What do women want… most?
Write the best response you got, as you tell us the
answer to such an age old question…. (trust me,
I’m trying to figure it out… For the sake of all
men)
How does answering this
question help us
understand human nature?
Write your answer on a
separate sheet, but leave space
to revisit it later!
Frame Narrative/ Envelope structure
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The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer: 29 pilgrims on
their way to…
Each Tale occurs within The Canterbury Tales
 “The Pardoner’s Tale”
 “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”
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Tale within “Wife of Bath’s Tale”
Setting
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Thomas Becket Murdered: 1170
Time and Place of the Story The Canterbury Tales
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Spring time; Sometime after the Murder—some say as
early as between 1171-1173; some say much later 1381
Time and Place of the Tale “The Wife of Bath”
During the reign of legend King Arthur
 Long before 1170
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Wife of Bath
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An early Feminist
Church’s anti-feminine tendencies
Conflict b/t bookish male “auctoritee”
(authority) and female “experience”
Knowledge of books
 Knowledge of the world
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“Expert Wife”
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Final husband, Johnny, finally learned what
women want most
Knight demonstrates this idea
Frame Narrative/ Envelope structure

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer: 29 pilgrims on
their way to…
Each Tale occurs within The Canterbury Tales
 “The Pardoner’s Tale”
 “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”
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Tale within “Wife of Bath’s Tale”:
 King Midas
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Overview
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In Part 1, the Wife defends marriage (as
opposed to virginity)
In Part 2, the Wife describes her married life
In Part 3, the Wife describes her final husband
Jankyn and their arguments over the “Book of
Wicked Wives”
In the Tale itself, the Wife tells us of a rapis
knight who must answer a riddle to save his life:
What is it that women most desire?
The Church’s Hierarchy
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Virgins
Widows who don’t remarry
Married women
“It was felt that God must love virgins most and that married
people came a very poor third in his affections.”
---------------------------------------------------------God
Men
Women
Animals
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In the course of her Prologue she seems to confirm
as many stereotypes as she confronts. There's no
question at all, though, that she gets your attention.
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In the late classical period, a lot of authors wrote
treatises about the disadvantages of being married,
particularly for men who hoped to have careers as
scholars and thinkers.
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1. Wives would talk your ear off, preventing you from
getting any work done.
2. Wives would demand that you make lots of money
to pay for their extravagant lifestyle.
3. They would spill your secrets to anyone who
happened to walk by.
What Men Say About Women
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Nature has given women so much power that the law cannot
afford to give her more. – Samuel Johnson
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No trust is to be placed in women. – Homer
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A woman, a spaniel, and a walnut tree, The more they’re
beaten, the better they be. - Thomas Fuller
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Can you recall a women who ever showed you with pride her
pibrary? – Benjamin Decasseres
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Girls began to talk and to stand on their feet sooner than boys
because weeds always grow up more quickly than crops. –
Martin Luther
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A very little wit is valued in a woman, as we are pleased with
few words spoken plain by a parrot. – Jonathan Swift
So…what do women want most?
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Answer this question again, now being
knowledgeable about the view/role of
women.
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Reflect: Why might men have viewed
women as they did? Do we still see this
today?
How does the Knight learn this
lesson?
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Let’s her choose what form to take
Reflect 1
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How does this tale reflect what we know of the
wife of bath?
Anticipate 1
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What does this tale by Wife of Bath tell us about
the Character’s motives?
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What do women want most?
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To be master over her husband or lover
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Wife of Bath Review Clip
Wife of Bath Reflection Question
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In today’s society, where might you find
individuals who would agree with the Wife and
the philosophy she illustrates with her story?
Who might argue against such opinions?
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Answer this reflection in a 5-7 sentence
paragraph.
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