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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Marriage

The Wife of Bath's Prologue begins with a defense of serial marriage. The Wife of Bath, who has been married five times, launches her argument against those who might claim that a once-widowed woma...

Sex

Sex in the Wife of Bath's Prologue is a hot commodity. The Wife is very explicit about wanting to have it often, and about trolling the world in search of its next source (in the form of potential...

Women and Femininity

The Wife spends much of her Prologue parroting antifeminist stereotypes about women, whether she's accusing her first three husbands of berating her with these stereotypes, or re-enacting her fifth...

Power

The "wo that is in marriage," of which the Wife of Bath purposes to speak, comes about mainly because of a woman's desire for "maistrye," or complete control over her husband, possessions, and self...

Wealth

In her Prologue the Wife of Bath claims to love sex more than almost anything else, but she just might care more about wealth. She admits to withholding her sexual favors from her husbands until th...

Literature and Writing

The Wife of Bath opens her Prologue by bucking the tradition of expounding upon a subject by citing from numerous scholarly texts, or "auctoritees." Instead, she says, she's going to speak from exp...

Old Age

The Wife of Bath is an old woman. We know that she's past forty, and back in Chaucer's day, people didn't live much longer than that on average. The only effect this seems to have had on the Wife,...

Love

When the Wife of Bath first uses the word love, she really means sex. Yet, by the end of her Prologue, when she tells us that Jankyn was the husband she loved best, we get the feeling that love act...
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