The Wife of Bath Tale

The Wife of Bath Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer gives insights about the role of women in the middle ages. The story also gives us the writer’s opinion towards women particularly on Alyson whose prologue is widely written about. Wife of Bath who is Alyson in the narration is a developed woman.

Alyson opinions

She establishes herself as the authority on marriage. She states that she has been married five times as she clearly justifies her reasons for leaving her marriages. She bases her arguments from the biblical point of view in that Abraham and Jacob had each more than one wife while Solomon had numerous of them. She also acknowledges that she is not as perfect as Christ. Her first three husbands are old and rich while the fourth robbed her of her beauty. Her fifth husband Janklyn is greatly talked about because she fell in love with him the most.

Alyson character

Her narration tells us her character she is so liberal and free and does not care what the society expects of her as a woman as seen in her numerous marriages. She is proud to have gone through them. She is not submissive as expected in the society. That is why she and Janklyn end up fighting in which Janklyn gives up his quest to control her.

Author’s portrayal of women at his time.

The Wife of Bath Tale

Chaucer’s portal of women through his main character Alyson does not portray his view of progressive women but he ironically presents the role women of his time as they were struggling in the fight for equality. The society at Chaucer’s time was patriarchal in which men and women had clearly defined roles to play. In the search for gender inequality Alyson emulates the dominant male patriarchy which she is destined to fail. The author through humour he ironically presents how his main character justifies her sexual desires using the biblical point of view. Chaucer challenges false teachings and wrongdoing that was being experienced in his time.

Gender expectations

The society has well predefined gender roles. These roles present what a woman is expected of and what a man is expected of. A man has the liberty to marry as many wives as he can manage. A woman on the other hand is to be protected and become submissive in marriage with no extra marital affairs.

Chaucer’s time and the present day

Since Chaucer’s time some aspects have changed while others have not. This tale is considered a precursor of the start of feminism in which women have been fighting for gender equality. Extra marital affairs and independence among women is common today as the society is becoming more liberal. However, still liberality cannot be seen as a excuse .woman in marriage have to abide by their roles in marriage and to be submissive and loving.


Enotes (2009) The Wife of Bath’s prologue and… Retrieved from

The Wife of Bath Tale

On 1st January 2009.