Geoffrey Chaucer's Wyf of Bath has been a controversial figure since she first appeared in the Wyf of Bath's Prologue and Tale (WB Pro & WBT) in The Canterbury Tales (CT) in the 14th century. Scholars cannot agree about how she uses her knowledge of "auctoritee[s]" (WB Pro 1), like Ovid. Some contend that she intelligently twists their words to articulate her proto-feminist beliefs while others believe she foolishly misquotes them. This inadvertently contradicts her beliefs, due to her misunderstanding of the misogynist texts she cites. This confusion is further compounded by Alisoun's tale, which is considered by many critics as contradictory to Alisoun's beliefs about gender roles in relationships. However, I contend that the WBT, compared with its analogues, is a proto-feminist tale that supports Alisoun's beliefs from the WB Pro, demonstrating her ability to twist texts and tales to fit her argument. Understanding how Alisoun "glose[s]" (WBT Pro 119) texts to fit her proto-feminist position concerning gender roles in relationships, as it is elucidated in the WB Pro, is vital to my contention.
Ames '08, Megan
"Twisting Texts and Tales: The Wyf of Bath's Proto-Feminist Beliefs Shown through Her Prologue and Tale,"
The Delta: Vol. 2:
1, Article 11.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/delta/vol2/iss1/11