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The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

The Wife arranges for her next marriage, to a young clerk named Jankyn, before her fourth husband is even dead. After her husband dies, she and Jankyn marry.

Act II

The Wife and Jankyn's marriage quickly turns sour. Jankyn refuses to give the Wife her way in everything, beats her, and forces her to listen to insulting stories and proverbs about women every night.


Enraged by Jankyn's Book of Wicked Wives, the Wife tears some pages out of it. In the fight that ensues, the two come to blows. But the outcome, the Wife claims, is that Jankyn yields all power to her; she forces him to burn his book.

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