"The Wife of Bath's Tale"
Things to Consider:
** Homework Questions **
- Piety vs. Hypocrisy
- Role / View of Women
- Relation of Storyteller to Story
- Comparison between the Wife and the Pardoner
- Explain the Wife of Bath's thoughts on virginity/chastity.
- Describe the Wife's treatment of her first three
Tale Proper :
- Describe the Wife's relationship with her fifth husband.
- Why is the Knight condemned to die?
- Why does the Queen grant the Knight a reprieve?
What task does she give him?
- What is it that women desire most?
- Explain: "Christ wills we claim from him our
gentleness, / Not from our elders and from their old richness"
- Explain the choice the old woman offers the knight.
- Is justice served in this tale? Does everyone get what he
or she deserves? Explain.
Other Discussion Questions:
- Explain the reference to the Samaritan wife.
- Explain the reference to Solomon.
- What two things have been the most important to the Wife of
Bath in the choice of her first five husbands?
- Explain the Wife of Bath's thoughts on bigamy.
- Who is Lamech?
- Who are Abraham and Jacob?
- Explain lines 111-16.
- According to the Wife of Bath, to what use should we put
- Explain: "I have the power, during all my life /
Over his own body, and not he" (164-65).
- Who is Ptolemy?
- Who is Argus?
- Explain: "Whoever comes first to mill, first
- Describe the Wife's fourth husband.
- What is "Venus's seal" (610)?
- Explain the references to Venus and Mars (615-626).
- Describe the book of wicked wives.
- Explain the reference to women writers (699-702).
- How does the Wife get her husband to burn his misogynist
book and grant her "all the sovereignty" (824)?
- Why, according to the Wife of Bath, are there no more
elves and fairies?
- Who is Midas?
- What must the Knight give as reward to the old woman who
gives him the answer?
- Explain the comparison between gentility and fire.
- Explain: "Glad poverty's an honest thing" (1189).
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