The Wife of Bath is often considered an early feminist, but by reading her prologue and tale one can easily see that this is not true. One should also note that the Wife of Bath did possess weaknesses towards men despite her air of confidence, and it is likely that her outspokenness is a sort of defense mechanism. Her fifth husband was the cruelest and most difficult for her to tame, and ironically her favorite of them all. Of course, she eventually had her way with all of them. She also boasts about her skill in manipulating her past husbands, especially the old, rich ones.
For example, the idea of fire is regularly associated with the Wife e. The Wife acknowledges harbouring this passion therefore recognising her lustful nature; her admittance of it reveals to the reader the boldness of her character, she is not ashamed to admit she is lustful even though society deemed it disgraceful. She logically uses the analogy of something natural in order to excuse her own actions. In the context of Middle Ages England, the sciences of astrology and physiognomy were largely accepted as giving insight into the character and tendencies of a person. Perhaps the most constant imagery throughout the text is that of animals which the Wife uses, almost entirely, to describe women. In a medieval society, it was widely believed that women came after men in the creation hierarchy followed swiftly by animals.
She is the definition of a loyalty not only to her husband, but amongst woman. Example, she illustrates her loyalty to the king by simply saying thank you for letting her punish the knight, and she illustrates her loyalty to other women by punishing the knight in a way that teaches him a lesson. Even though she is in the story for a brief moments, she demonstrates her own independence as well as intelligence through her actions.
They demand to know where they can find Death, a mysterious figure who killed one of their friends. An old man directed them to a tree, where they should find Death. However, once they arrived, they were greeted not by Death, but by gold coins. They become excited, but one says that if they were to carry the gold into town during the day, they would be mistaken for thieves; so they decide to wait for the cover of night, but in the meantime, the youngest one went to get bread and wine to eat. While he was away, the other two show their greed by plotting to kill the young lad when he returned with the food, so that their share of wealth was greater.