To What Extent Does the Wyf of Bath’s Prologue Prepare Us for Her Tale?

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There is a strong relationship between the Wyf of Bath’s prologue and tale. She has radical views about women and marriage at a time where women are meant to be passive towards men. They are also classed over their sexual activity; they are defined in a relationship to the men that she has slept with, used to sleep with or if she is still a virgin. The Wyf of Bath is an experienced woman for she has wedded five different husbands. In addition she is very clever and often argues with sophistry. At this time women were renowned to be not as clever as the men. The most apparent similarities between the prologue and the tale are the dominance of women over their husbands. There are similarities between the Wyf of Bath and the old hag in the tale in terms of appearance; likewise her fifth husband and the knight are similar in terms of personality. The Wyf of Bath always gets the upper hand of the relationship in each of her five marriages, and is happier in that position. In order for the Wyf of Bath to gain the upper hand she must gain the husbands power with his conscious or unconscious decision. Likewise in the tale, the old hag must gain the knights power for a relationship, but with her governing position (giving him information that could save his life) the relationship happens leaving them happy. The relationship between the old hag and the Wyf of Bath is the description of their appearance, the Wyf of Bath describes herself as old and lethargic: “But age, allas, that al wol envenime, Hath me biraft my beautee and my pith” (Line 481-482). Although her physical description compared to the portrait old hag is not as unpleasant. The knight describes her as, “A fouler wight ther may no man devise” (Line 1005). Due to these similarities it could be argued that the Wife of Bath sees herself evolving into the old hag’s character, yet hoping to transform back into a
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