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Marriage in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

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Marriage in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

The views of marriage expressed in both Prologue and Tale are those of the Wife; whether they are also Chaucer's is debatable: others of the pilgrims tell tales giving views of marriage, but none can speak from such extensive personal experience as the Wife of Bath, and this experience is the subject of her lengthy and chaotic prologue. The vitality of Chaucer's portrait of the Wife, and the assurance he gives her in asserting the case for wives' mastery over their husbands indicate at least sympathy, if not agreement, with her point of view.

What, then, are the views of the Wife of Bath? First, she argues from scripture and experience that marriage (despite its tribulations, to which she at once refers) is no bad thing, and that successive marriages for those who are widowed are perfectly in order. Arguments against marriage (such as the preposterous interpretation of John's account of the wedding at Cana) can be countered, the Wife shows, by demonstrating how Biblical teaching is far from clear in some places,

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