CANTERBURY TALES--THE WIFE OF BATH AND HER TALE 

[Cross-references included at the bottom of the page]

 

419. ALLEN, JUDSON BOYCE, and GALLACHER, PATRICK. "Alisoun Through the Looking Glass; or Every Man His Own Midas." Chaucer Review 4 (1970):99-105.

Explicates the Wife of Bath's Ovidian exemplum of Midas as an indicator of how she misuses authority and a reflection of her moral weakness. Standard Ovidian commentaries (Giovanni del Virgilio and Arnulf of Orlean) expose the Wife's distortions of the exemplary meaning of Midas.

420. AXELROD, STEVEN. "The Wife of Bath and the Clerk." Annuale Mediaevale 15 (1974):100-124.

Questions the traditional assumption of antagonism between the Wife of Bath and the Clerk, suggesting that the two engage in "witty banter" rather than "fierce assault." Their "incipient courtship" is consistent with their portraits, their prologues, and their tales.

421. BIGGINS, DENNIS. "'O Jankyn, Be Ye There?'" In Chaucer and Middle English Studies in honour of Rossell Hope Robbins. Edited by Beryl Rowland. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1974, pp. 249-54.

Collects the suggestions of the Wife of Bath's marital status from the Canterbury Tales and shows how this evidence proves her neither wife nor widow at the time of the pilgrimage, but ambiguously suggests both, enriching her character.

422. BLAKE, N.F. "The Wife of Bath and Her Tale." Leeds Studies in English, 13 (1982):42-55.

Reconsiders various critical questions concerning the Wife of Bath in light of the authority of the Hengwrt manuscript, denying that the Shipman's Tale was ever intended for the Wife, challenging the validity of a "Marriage Group," tracing stages of the Wife's development among the two versions of her tale and the two of her prologue, and suggesting that her prologue and tale combine with the Friar's and Summoner's tales to form a "cohesive group" concerned with tyranny.

423. BURTON, T. L. "The Wife of Bath's Fourth and Fifth Husbands and Her Ideal Sixth: The Growth of a Marital Philosophy." Chaucer Review 13 (1978):34-50.

The Wife of Bath's presentation of her fourth and fifth husbands and the knight in her tale characterize her as a "bossy woman who longs to be mastered in the bedroom," and who "loathes being manacled outside it." She resolves the conflict in fantasy.

424. CAIE, GRAHAM D. "The Significance of the Early Chaucer Manuscript Glosses (with Special Reference to the Wife of Bath's Prologue)." Chaucer Review 10 (1976):350-60.

Examines glosses to the Wife of Bath's Prologue in various manuscripts to show that they are not Chaucerian, but the reactions of fifteenth-century readers. They reveal the readers' reactions as they identify sources of the Wife's material and clarify her misinterpretation and misuse of it.

425. CARRUTHERS, MARY [J]. "The Wife of Bath and the Painting of Lions." PMLA 94 (1979):209-22.

Characterizes the Wife of Bath as an entreprenurial member of the bourgeoisie and discusses the socio-political aspects of her parodies of anti-feminism and the false gentility of social climbers. In her prologue, she indicates the financial disadvantages of virginity, and her tale inverts the ideals of contemporary deportment books, subverting their illusory gentility.

426. CARY, MEREDITH. "Sovereignty and Old Wife." Papers in Language and Literature 5 (1969):375-88.

Compares Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale with its nearly contemporary English analogues and several versions from folklore. Consistent with the female narrator of the tale, all the major roles are female and the expressed values are traditionally associated with women. Transforming a traditionally masculine tale, Chaucer opposes the Wife's "feminine attitude" and "the traditional position of women in his society."

427. COLMER, DOROTHY. "Character and Class in the Wife of Bath's Tale." JEGP 72 (1974):329-39.

Argues that the Wife of Bath's fairy romance reflects her sexual obsession and that her discussion of gentilesse extends from her middle class background. Her rejections of male sexual domination and upper-class moral superiority are characteristically consistent.

428. COTTER, JAMES FINN. "The Wife of Bath's Lenten Observance." Papers in Language and Literature 7 (1971):293-97.

Compares the Wife of Bath's lenten practices--extravagant clothing and "dalliance"--and her rhetoric describing them to the Ash Wednesday gospel, clarifying the comedy of her description and the spiritual irony of her actions.

429. EAST, W.G. "By Preeve Which That is Demonstratif." Chaucer Review 12 (1977):78-82.

Argues that the critical attention to the Marriage Argument has obscured the thematic unity of the tales of the Wife of Bath, Friar, and Summoner (Fragment III), all of which address the relative value of authority and experience in scholastic debate.

430. GILLIAM, D. "'Cast up the Curtyn': A Tentative Exploration into the Meaning of the Wife of Bath's Tale." In Proceedings of the Twelfth Congress of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association. Sydney: Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association, 1970, pp. 435-55.

Reads Wife of Bath's Tale as a double-edged allegory: on one level, the Wife's exhortation to "embrace sexual appetite" since it brings rewards, and on the other, Chaucer's condemnation of sin, signalled by the discussion of gentilesse and echoes of Boethius and Dante.

431. HALLER, ROBERT S. "The Wife of Bath and the Three Estates." Annuale Mediaevale 6 (1965):47-64.

Shows how the concept of the three estates underlies the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale: the Wife uses bourgeois stategy against her first three husbands, "outclerks" the clerical Jankyn, and through the hag's discussion, is more gentle than the knight of her tale. As a cloth merchant, the Wife reflects the social changes of Chaucer's day, prevailing over representatives of traditional social classes.

432. HAMILTON, ALICE. "Helowys and the Burning of Jankyn's Book." Mediaeval Studies 34 (1972):196-207.

Observes similarities in detail and pattern between the book-burning scene of Wife of Bath's Prologue and Peter Abelard's Historia Calamitatem, arguing that Abelard's work may have been Chaucer's source, known to him through Jean de Meun and Petrarch.

433. HARWOOD, BRITTON J. "The Wife of Bath and the Dream of Innocence." Modern Language Quarterly 33 (1972):257-73.

Reads the Wife of Bath's Prologue as a complex portrait of the Wife's marital woes and lost innocence which she only partially assuages through the fantasy of her tale. Like the hag of her tale, she knows female desires and the concessions necessary in marriage, but she lacks the hag's power of self-regeneration.

434. HOLLAND, NORMAN N. "Meaning as Transformation: The Wife of Bath's Tale." College English 28 (1967):279-90.

Compares various "modern," "medieval," and "mythic" layers of meaning in Wife of Bath's Tale, privileging a psychoanalytic interpretation that "underlies all others." The meaning of the tale is its process of tranforming the reader's unconscious fantasy into conscious terms: the fantasy is of the phallic aggression of the child who must submit to the mother or hazard castration.

435. KOBAN, CHARLES. "Hearing Chaucer Out: The Art of Persuasion in the Wife of Bath's Tale." Chaucer Review 5 (1971):225-39.

Uses Wife of Bath's Tale to argue that Chaucer's works are best understood orally. Imagining ourselves as listeners to the tale, we can recognize how the exemplary material, the conventions of the plot, and the explicit moralizing on gentility "raise in respective ironic, paradoxical, and hortatory form" the problem of "dignity in fallen human nature."

436. LEVY, BERNARD S. "The Wife of Bath's Queynte Fantasye." Chaucer Review 4 (1970):106-22.

Clarifies the punning references to genitalia in Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, arguing that words and phrases like "gentil dedes," "thyng," and "sovereignty" comprise a pattern of bawdy suggestion which characterizes the Wife and the loathly hag as "worldly women." In contrast, the end of the Wife's tale carries covert echoes of baptism.

437. MAGEE, PATRICIA ANNE. "The Wife of Bath and the Problem of Mastery." Massachusetts Studies in English 3 (1971):40- 45.

Characterizes the Wife of Bath, not as a radical feminist who wants dominance over males, but as a woman who wants what she can not have and who wants to be dominated. Suggestive parallels between her prologue and tale indicate the difference between what the Wife thinks she wants and "what she 'really' wants."

438. MATTHEWS, WILLIAM. "The Wife of Bath and All Her Sect." Viator 5 (1974):413-43.

Traces the roots of Chaucer's characterization of the Wife of Bath in classical and medieval tradition. In her marital success and her active old age, the Wife differs from the stock character of the old woman found in Ovid's Amores, in Pamphilus, Vetula, Mahieu de Boulogne's Lamentations, Juan Ruiz's El libro de buen amor, and Jean de Meun's Roman de la rose. Chaucer derived her vitality, perhaps, from fabliaux and transformed the stock character.

439. MILLER, ROBERT P. "The Wife of Bath's Tale and Mediaeval Exempla." ELH 32 (1965):442-56.

Compares Wife of Bath's Tale to traditional exempla concerned with obedience or fair/foul transformation, identifying the Wife's inversion of traditional interpretations of such exempla, thereby questioning whether or not the knight of the tale committed "himself utterly to the power of the Fair Temptress."

440. PATTERSON, LEE. "'For the Wyves Love of Bathe': Feminine Rhetoric and Poetic Resolution in the Roman de la Rose and the Canterbury Tales." Speculum 58 (1983):656-95.

Compares the formal and rhetorical aspects of the speeches of Jean de Meun's La Vieille and Chaucer's Wife of Bath, arguing that the characters reflect the medieval association of poetry and sexuality, and that the authors capitalize upon the association to explore and resolve critical literary issues in their works. The Wife resolves the conflict between authority, represented by the Man of Law, and her own experience, appropriating masculine rhetoric for feminine purpose.

441. PRATT, ROBERT A. "Jankyn's Book of Wikked Wyves: Medieval Antimatrimonial Propaganda in the Universities." Annuale Mediaevale 3 (1962):5-27.

Authenticates Jankyn's Book of Wicked Wives found in Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue, describing the history of the anti-feminist tradition that combined Theophrastus, Jerome, and Walter Map in many manuscripts. The popularity of such collections in late-medieval universities, especially Oxford, clarifies the character of Jankyn.

442. REID, DAVID S. "Crocodilian Humor: A Discussion of Chaucer's Wife of Bath." Chaucer Review 4 (1970):73-89.

Impressionistic reading of the Wife of Bath as caricature, her prologue as farce, and her tale as burlesque, resulting from the "antic humor" of anti-feminism, anti-clericism, and class antagonism which Chaucer's modifies through his sophisticated treatment of popular comedy.

443. ROBERTSON, D.W., Jr. "'And For My Land Hastow Modred Me?': Land Tenure, the Cloth Industry, and the Wife of Bath." Chaucer Review 14 (1980):403-20.

Explains and documents the economics of land tenure, the cloth industry, and marriage in Chaucer's time, attempting to reconstruct the Wife of Bath as Chaucer's audience might have seen her. Argues that the Wife embodies the acquisitiveness and social disruption associated with the rise of the cloth industry.

444. ROWLAND, BERYL. "On the Timely Death of the Wife of Bath's Fourth Husband." Archiv fur das Studium der Neueran Sprachen und Literaturen 209 (1972):273-82.

Traces a sub-text of references to death in Wife of Bath's Prologue, and combines them with analysis of the Wife's false dream and her fight with Jankyn to suggest that the Wife and Jankyn collaborated to murder her fourth husband. Chaucer leaves the suggestion "tantalizingly ambiguous."

445. ROWLAND, BERYL. "The Wife of Bath's 'Unlawfull Philtrum'." Neophilologus 56 (1972):201-06.

Exemplifies the Wife of Bath's combination of "exegetical and folklore material" by analyzing the traditional association of barley bread with "Priapic loaves," used to excite amorous ardor. The allusion is a sub-text to her reference in her Prologue to Christ's multiplication of loaves and fishes.

446. SANDERS, BARRY. "Chaucer's Dependence on Sermon Structure in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale." Studies in Medieval Culture 4 (1974):437-45.

Identifies manipulation of sermon construction, sermon techniques, and "degenerate pulpit rhetoric" in Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, suggesting that such burlesque is part of the Wife's satire of clerical preaching.

447. SCHAUBER, ELLEN, and SPOLSKY, ELLEN. "The Conslation of Alison: The Speech Acts of the Wife of Bath." Centrum 5 (1977):20-34.

Applies speech-act theory to three Chaucerian female characters, attempting to describe the individuated nature of their speech and thereby explain Chaucer's method of characterization. Confrontation, insistence, and confiding syntactically typify the Wife of Bath. The loathly hag of the Wife's tale and Prudence of Tale of Melibee argue more logically and less aggressively than the Wife and confide not at all.

448. SHAPIRO, GLORIA K. "Dame Alice as Deceptive Narrator." Chaucer Review 6 (1971):130-41.

Characterizes the Wife of Bath as one whose bravado covers more sentiment and religious conviction than she willingly discloses, identifying tensions between her respect for authority and for experience, her self deprecation and her assurance, her genuineness and her pretensions, and her suffering and the pain she inflicts upon others.

449. SHUMAKER, WAYNE. "Alisoun in Wonder-Land: A Study in Chaucer's Mind and Literary Method." ELH 18 (1951):77- 89.

Assesses the Wife of Bath's portrait and prologue, emphasizing Chaucer's medieval tendency to represent her in generalizations rather in than particulars. Even though the Wife is the most realistic of the Canterbury pilgrims, Chaucer characterizes her through her use of authority, not by extrapolating the details of her sketch.

450. SINGER, MARGARET. "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale." In Studies in Chaucer. Edited by G.A. Wilkes and A.P. Reimer. Sydney Studies in English. Sydney: University of Sydney, 1981, pp. 28-37.

Examines the narrative modes of Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, identifying the various stylistic and rhetorical devices used in the two parts of the prologue and in the tale, and describing them as argument, naturalistic fiction, and romance. The interplay among these modes reflects the thematic concern with experience and authority in the prologue and tale..

451. STORM, MELVIN. "Alisoun's Ear." Modern Language Quarterly 42 (1981):219-26.

Studies the iconographic significance of the Wife of Bath's deafness in one ear, documenting from Scriptural and patristic sources the suggestion that deafness or hearing with one ear signifies abuse of authority and resistence to spiritual truth.

452. THUNDY, ZACHARIAS P. "Matheolus, Chaucer, and the Wife of Bath." In Chaucerian Problems and Perspectives: Essays Presented to Paul E. Beichner, C.S.C. Edited by Edward Vasta and Zacharias P. Thundy. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979, pp. 24-58.

Proposes the thirteenth-century Latin Lamentations of Matheolus, translated into French by Jean le Fevre, as a source of irony in Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue, identifying over one hundred verbal parallels between the two and fifteen common topics.

453. UTLEY, FRANCIS LEE. "Chaucer's Way with a Proverb: 'Allas! Allas! That Evere Love was Synne!'" North Carolina Folklore 21 (1973):98-104.

Demontrates the rich ambiguity of Chaucer's use of proverbs by assessing the analogues to a proverb used by the Wife of Bath and describing the nuances of her proverbial expression.

454. ZIMBARDO, ROSE A. "Unity and Duality in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale." Tennessee Studies in Literature 11 (1960):11-18.

Reads Wife of Bath's Prologue as an exploration of the dialectical tensions between experience and authority, male and female, metaphysical and physical. The Wife's "generosity of love" enables her to reconcile these opposites within God's order and her tale exemplifies this reconciliation through the action and advice of the loathly hag.

See also entries 54, 133, 136, 141, 155, 159, 190, 201, 229, 241, 257, 260, 272, 322, 766-67. For characterization: 114, 216, 224, 290, 490; sources and analogues: 169, 176, 178, 262; relations to other tales: 242, 245, 310, 323-28, 455, 463, 476-77, 484, 489, 495, 519, 579.

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