A Level English: The Wife of Bath- Warrior of Words



To get an idea of the common definition of “conflict”, simply search the word online and up come many images of people arguing, wrestling and playing tug of war. There is a particularly nice image of two suit-dressed colleagues… with large, intimidating boxing gloves. If it were not for their smart attire, they look ready for a boxing match.

But there is not one definition of conflict- it can be physical, verbal (as the Wife of Bath subjects her husbands to), or even internal, a fact well demonstrated in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, in which most, if not all, of these types of conflict can be seen. For all those action lovers, disappointingly, we don’t get to hear about the Wife of Bath wearing those menacing boxing gloves…but! We do get the intense tale about Alisoun’s battle with her fifth husband and her feigning death.

Examples of conflict:


There is a special ambiguity in the Wife of Bath which prevents us from being certain as to what Chaucer intended in his presentment of conflict in his poetry. However, whether you believe Chaucer was challenging misogynism or endorsing it through the Wife of Bath, certainly, her victories at the end of the conflicts she is involved in mark her out as a woman of strength in the history of Literature. Chaucer’s masterpiece is all the better for it.

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