An Analysis of the Wife of Bath's Argument in the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Wife of Bath considers herself to be a strong, independent, and carefree woman, and her philosophies described in The Canterbury Tales corroborate this personality. Some of her radical (or at least, radical for women of this time period) ideas included her encouragement of multiple marriages, her denunciation of virginity, and her outspoken criticism of the bible. Because her beliefs are so unordinary, she has to utilize the use of humor, knowledge, logic and flattery in order to persuade people that her views are more realistic than their own.

The Wife of Bath’s first argument to prove her philosophy is that women should be allowed to marry as many times as they desire, and in order to get the best results out of the marriage, they should have sovereignty over their husbands. She tries to convince people that she is right through her use of humor. The dialogue between her and the other characters is meant to disarm the audience through her satirization of popular misogynistic texts.

Her use of humor allows her to get her point across without the use of exhortation.

She applies the use of knowledge especially while arguing with the bible. In fact, she uses other quotes from the bible in her arguments, although she does take them out of context. She also uses logic to start building her arguments by first starting off with a simple, gneric point, but then she continues to support it with hard facts. She once again refers to the bible when trying to argue that her lifestyle is superior.

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Eventually, she will move away from the religous aspect and start to touch upon biology. She argues that if it weren’t for sex, how could virgins be created? It seems like a simple argument, but it is also very hard to argue against.

Finally, to close her argument, she uses flattery and reverse psychology to finalize her debate. She says, “One of us must be master, man or wife, and since a man’s more reasonable, he must be the patient one, you must agree.” The Wife of Bath is saying that if men are so superior, they should have the patience to deal with women, and they should let women take control of their relationship.

The conclusion of the Wife of Bath’s tale includes her husband giving her control over their relationship, thus implying that she was persuasive enough to influence the opinions of many others as well. The Wife of Bath is very intelligent and stubborn, and when it came to arguing her side of who should control a relationship, her knowledge in the bible is what really helped her convince her peers, as well as her fifth husband.

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An Analysis of the Wife of Bath's Argument in the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. (2023, Feb 13). Retrieved from

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