What Is "the Wife of Bath"?


Quick Answer

The Wife of Bath is a woman named Alisoun in "The Canterbury Tales." She is a member of a group of pilgrims who are traveling from Southwark to Canterbury Cathedral.

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Full Answer

Geoffrey Chaucer describes the Wife of Bath as a well-dressed woman who is red-faced, slightly deaf and large-hipped. Alisoun has been married five times, starting at the age of 12, but she did have a few lovers in her younger days. This experience, in her opinion, makes her an expert on matters of love and marriage, about which she prattles incessantly during the prologue to the story she tells the other pilgrims. In fact, the prologue is far longer than the tale she actually tells, in which one of King Arthur's knights must choose to have a wife who is foul-looking but faithful or a wife who is beautiful but unfaithful.

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