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Ideas from the CBC: The Wife of Bath

Monday, April 24, 2023

A group of pilgrims meet on the road to Canterbury. There's a knight, a miller, a clerk, a cook, a parson — 30 in all. To pass the time, they tell stories, and the reward for the teller of the best tale will be a free meal at the Tabard Inn. One of the most arresting characters in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is the Wife of Bath, who, before she even gets to her story, tells her listeners at great length exactly what she thinks about marriage in general, and men in particular. She's been called the first fully-formed woman in English literature: she's smart, bawdy, funny, successful, and confident. Seven hundred years later, the Wife of Bath remains an inspiration to writers today.