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Word Count: 1,380
The Wife of Bath is commonly recognised to be set distinctly aside from the other pilgrims due to her extended autobiographical monologue that precedes her tale Her Prologue is the longest allotted to any of the pilgrims and is almost as long as the General Prologue itself In the Wife of Baths Prologue Chaucer has often been praised for painting his most vivid picture of a character and their idiosyncrasies giving readers a real insight into her heart and mind and into the ideals that govern her life It has frequently been suggested that as Flaubert said Madame Bovary Cest moi Chaucer could have said The Wyf of Bathe It am I In her Prologue the Wife of Bath bursts in upon us with the strident affirmation that Experience though noon auctoritee Were in this world is right ynogh for me To speke of wo that is in mariage Experience and auctoritee are her first and most significant words This essay will discuss this relationship between experience and authority in the Wife of Baths Prologue In the Wifes opening lines and throughout her Prologue she presents herself as a representative of experience attempting to do away with authority all together setting up a heterodox doctrine of marriage based on female supremacy to replace the traditional medieval view sanctioned by the church fathers and by common law that wives should be humble obedient and submissive to their husbands in all things She challenges these well-established views and written commentaries of her time basing her opinions on everyday events and general experience rather than inflexible forms of medieval learning for it is not abstract doctrine but experience the realities of life engrossingly accepted and followed that she believes to be her strength Ian Bishop describes how ultimately the Wife of Bath is presenting one of Aristotles technical terms of ethics practical as opposed to speculative understanding However it can also be seen that although
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