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“Chaucer’s Opinion of ”The Wife of Bath”

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Through information given by Chaucer that is implied and stated directly throughout the prologue of “The Canterbury Tales” Chaucer gives the impression that The Wife of Bath is a deviant woman. Chaucer states directly and implies his thoughts in the prologue relating to The Wife of Bath’s physical appearance, her qualities, traits and other background information.

Chaucer portrays the Wife of Bath as a deviant and rather ugly woman. The physical appearance of the Wife of Bath described by Chaucer is “she had gap-teeth, set widely.” Showing that her facial features weren’t of the finest. She is dressed in very expensive cloths and wears a scarf covering her head, neck and chin. She wears this scarf possibly to hide the rest of her face. In addition Chaucer goes on to say “easily on an ambling horse she sat.” Proving that she was obviously not a small woman, but a rather hefty woman since she could easily sit on a horse. Chaucer also portrays The Wife of Bath as deviant and not friendly to the common people “In all the parish not a dame dared stir.” This is showing how the common people were so scared of her wrath that they wouldn’t even look at her.

Chaucer reveals that The Wife of Bath was a woman with experience not only with men, but with pilgrimages as well. Chaucer implies that The Wife of Bath possibly might have been with so many men maybe for their money, “She’d have husbands, apart from others in youth.” Showing that she had been with many men. Chaucer also implies that she knew about love and heartbreak possibly another reason for her having so many men in her life, “And knew the remedies for love’s mischances, an art in which she knew the oldest dances.” Showing that The Wife of Bath knew of heartbreak and knew how to avoid it by having so many men in her life. In addition Chaucer’s reveals that The Wife of Bath had gone on other pilgrimages before “She’d been to Rome and St. James of Compostella.” He also states that from going on these other pilgrimages she had experience with the land. “And she was skilled in wandering by the way.”

Through information that is both implied and stated directly in the prologue to “The Canterbury Tales” Chaucer characterizes The Wife of Bath as deviant, rather ugly, and a woman with knowledge of love and pilgrimages. The kind of tales The Wife of Bath might choose to tell could possibly be ones of love, and heartbreak. Dealing with betrayal and lust possibly a reason for her having five husbands. She might also tell tales of her past pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem, and St. James of Compostella. Dealing with her strange sites and experiences.

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