The Wife of Bath is a wealthy and elegant woman with extravagant, brand new clothing. She is from Bath, a key English cloth-making town in the Middle Ages, making her a talented seam stress. Before the wife begins her tale, she informs the audience about her life and personal experience on marriage, in a lengthy prologue. The Wife of Bath initiates her prologue by declaring that she has had five husbands, giving her enough experience to make her an expert on marriage. Numerous people have criticized her for having had many husbands, but she does not see anything immoral about it. Most people established negative views on her marriages, based on the interpretation of what Christ meant when he told a Samaritan woman that her fifth husband was not her husband. To support her situation, the Wife introduced a key figure that had multiple wives: King Solomon.
She learned how to provide for herself in a society where women had very little sovereignty and authority by gaining control over her husbands. Of her five husbands, the first three were “good” and the other two were “bad.” The first three were good because they were old, wealthy, and obedient. She put these men through torture, by charging them of ridiculous allegations until they felt guilty and gave her whatever she wanted. The Wife also used a tool of persuasion to acquire what she wanted, by withholding sexual satisfaction until they promised to her what she wanted.
Her fourth husband was her first “bad” husband when she was still in youth. They loved singing and dancing with each other and had loads of fun with each other. Unfortunately, just as she almost gains complete control over her fourth husband, he dies. Her fifth and last husband was Jankyn. She loved him even though he treated her terribly and abused her. He was timid and satisfying in bed, and always triumphed in getting her back. Jankyn was different from the other husbands because she married him for love, not wealth.
She first met Jankyn when she was still married to her fourth husband. While walking one day, she lied to him and told him that he had captivated her heart and she would marry him if she were to become a widow. Then, at her fourth husband’s funeral, she met Jankyn again and fell in love with him, getting married at the end of the month. Thinking she could handle his youth, she ended up regretting the vast age difference. She abused him because of her superiority by age; for this reason, she despised the large age difference.
Soon thereafter, the Wife was agitated to discover that Jankyn spent a majority of his time reading a collection of books that ridiculed women. One night, Jankyn tortured the Wife of Bath, by reading aloud from this collection. It started with Eve first taking the apple in the Garden of Eden, bringing sin to all mankind; then he about read about Delilah’s disloyalty to Samson, Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon, Lucilla poisoning Lucretius, and other prominent tales. Unable to bear...