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Word Count: 670
The Wife of Baths Prologue is by far the longest prologue of the Canterbury Tales Though lengthy is her description the self-portrait provided is not nearly as clear-cut as that of the other characters However the underlying theme of this prologue reveals itself to be an account of the trials of marriage Basing her description out of her own experience and speaking apart from the authority of the Bible the Wife with her five marriages is well qualified to address the woes of matrimony This theme leads directly into the Wifes tale It is evident that what the Wife speaks of in her tale is most likely a description of what she desires from her partner The setting of her story is in the time of King Arthur and speaks of a young knight who has been condemned to death for rape At the request of the queen the knights life is spared The stipulation to her securing his life is that he the knight must find out within a year what thing women most desire The setting alone gives this story a universal application and shows that its lesson can be applied elsewhere The Wife choosing what the knight must do to save his life is a clear representation that she herself has been unhappy or unsatisfied in her past marriages The Wife tells that the knight has failed in his journey to seek the answer to the question that will spare his life Once again this piece of her story is revealing how the Wifes past husbands have failed in their quest to please her The Wife then tells that on the day that the knight must return home he sees a group of fairies in the forest When he approaches the dancers they disappear and leave behind an ugly old woman The ugly old woman in this case possibly represents how the Wife views herself as age has begun to take its
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