Based upon England’s medieval era, the Canterbury Tales, one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s most popular works contains 24 stories or as people like to call them satires, based upon corruption, problems and stereotypes that occured back in the late 14th century. One of the most acclaimed stories within the Canterbury Tales is the tale of the Wife of Bath, one of the most memorable characters within Chaucer’s stories due to her detailed description and scandalous personality which can almost be compared to a real character. The story portrays a flirtatious woman who is ungovernable, with a strong sexual desire, who believes she’s an expert of love. She is considered to be an independent woman who doesn’t abide by the rules given by society and. Although the story of the Wife of Bath presents many signs of feminism and women’s freedom, the main theme among this story is gender equality. Chaucer presents many literary devices within his story to make the tale more significant. The use of archetypes such as the color pink, a cavern and the struggle with social norms helps the reader analyze more in-depth the character of the Wife of Bath.
The Wife of Bath is presented to be a very flirtatious and feminine woman. One of the archetypes that resemble the Wife of Bath is the color pink. Not only her physical description but also the way she dressed made this character flirtatious. “Hir hosen weren of fin scarlet reed, …’’ Back in the days a woman dressed with the color red which was a symbol that represented passion and sensuality as well as the gap within her teeth. Femininity is another word that suits the character of the Wife of Bath. She was well known for being an excellent seamstress. She wore extravagant colors within her dresses and also she loved wearing tons of cloth under her hat. She was a very independent woman who sought no men for approval on whatever she had to do. As opposed to other women during that time, if her husband disrespected her she wouldn’t stay quiet, which explains why she was married a couple of times. Although it may not be as clear, she wanted men and women to have equal rights. People tended to criticize women but not men for doing the same things such as having multiple wives. Not content with the situation, the wife of bath struggled following the social norms.
Another archetype that might be associated with the Wife of Bath is the struggle with the social norms. Back in medieval times women could not express their ideas. Their main role was cooking, staying home, cleaning and taking care of the children. The Wife of Bath did not usually follow the rules of society. She liked having authority within the marriage, and almost preferred those who were submissive to her. She married a couple of times although back then women were criticized and label for doing so, but the wife of bath being who she is, she didn’t care about what other people had to say about her being married more than once. As opposed to every woman back then she wasn’t suppressed and was considered being a bold and strong character because she didn’t stay quiet.
One of the archetypes I found similar to the personality of the Wife of Bath is a cavern. The significance of a cavern can be sexual luxuriousness and lust. She even encouraged other women to have more than one partner if they needed to. In the prologue she claims that even though God and St. Paul believed that maintaining their virginity was the best thing to do, she wouldn’t like to be a virgin. She believed that virginity only those who were called to live their lives just as God did. It was known that she had a strong sexual desire and she thought that the only way of getting what she wanted was by pleasing men. In many parts of the story it is clear that she was in search of another source. She would use her body to manipulate guys into getting whatever she wants.
Although the character of the wife of bath brought many controversies to the readers back then, many might say it was one of Chaucer’s best characters within his stories. She is one of the few women back then who was strong and was not afraid to speak before her husband. She was bold and fearless and she didn’t like any man telling her what to do. Her way of going against all norms within the society was a way of saying that she wanted equal rights. Since men could do things without being called names and judged, why couldn’t women speak up and do the same things without being criticized?