Wife of Bath
For Tues. please answer question 3 or 5
For Thur. please answer question 10
1. How many times has the Wife been married? What were her husbands each like? How did she treat them? Be sure to look esp. at her fifth marriage. How would you characterize it? What caused the argument between Jankyn and the Wife as she tells it?
2. In her long monologue, the Wife catalogues the many accusations of husbands against wives. What are these accusations and how does the Wife respond to them?
3. What do experience and authority mean in the Wife’s Prologue and Tale–how does she set up the contrast between them?
4. What does the Wife have to say about virginity? How does it compare to marriage? What are her views on the biblical teachings about virginity? What is the Wife’s theory of sovereignty in marriage? How is this expressed in her Prologue? In her Tale?
5. The Wife uses many metaphors in her Prologue. List a few of them. Do you see any patterns among them? What is their effect on her monologue?
6. How do the Wife’s Pro. and Tale relate to one another? What similar themes are discussed? Does the ending to her tale modify your reading of her views on mastery in marriage? What is “sovereignty?” How does the Wife define and use it?
7. Does the Wife’s tale end up condoning rape? Why or why not?
8. Is the Wife a feminist figure? Why or why not? How are you defining that term? Does it make a difference that she is the creation of a male writer? How?
9. How is nobility defined in the Wife’s Tale?
10. Is this text a male fantasy? A woman’s? Whose fantasy is it?
11. How does the Wife “quite” the Man of Law’s tale? How can we read her tale as responding to the other tales we have read so far?