Revised Preliminary Materials

Summary: I want to make the argument that the Wife of Bath and her tale centered around the “old hag” and power dynamics shows a new form of woman in Medieval writing. The Wife of Bath is a complicated and experienced woman given a voice by a male author. While she embodies the negative facets such as promiscuity given to women as a whole, she also is presented to the reader a human, not a passive object falling victim to men.

Enthymeme Thesis: The voice given to Alyson or as she is strictly referred to as “The Wife of Bath,” is the creation of male narrator Geoffrey Chaucer, and it depicts the concept of a multidimensional woman both victimized and in possession of spiritual power, therefore this departs from the one-tonality of woman seen in Medieval texts when discussing lust and marriage. 

Outside Resources:

Chaucer, Geoffrey, and Peter G Beidler. The Wife of Bath. Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1996.

Feminist Readings in Middle English Literature : The Wife of Bath and All Her Sect, edited by Ruth Evans, and Leslie Johnson, Taylor & Francis Group, 1994. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Ravishing Maidens: Writing Rape in Medieval French Literature and Law, by Kathryn Gravdal, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991, pp. 122–140. JSTOR, Accessed 25 Sept. 2020.

The “Elvyssh” Power of Constance: Christian Feminism in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Man of Law’s Tale, by Elizabeth Robertson, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, Volume 23,2001, pp. 143-180.

Planned Close Reading Sections:

  • SCENE 1: Lusty Knight rapes the maiden, and is offered a deal by Queen and ladies of the court- Lines 882-1012
  • SCENE 2: Knight gives power to his wife; she transforms from old to beautiful: Lines: 1207-1256
  • Here I plan to stress the idea of the cosmic symbolism of marriage, and parallel the old woman’s spiritual power to “The “Elvyssh” Power of Constance: Christian Feminism in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Man of Law’s Tale”
  • I will also enforce the idea of the old woman being spiritually inclined using Medieval Philosophy: A Multicultural Reader to show her understanding that certain evils (in this case poverty) are considered good because they have the ability to bring an individual closer to God and thus, eternal life.
  • “poverte ful ofte, whan man is lowe, makes him know his God and also himself” (Chaucer 1201-1202).