Sample questions

  1. In what ways is the language of the Wife's Prologue different from that of her Tale?
  2. ‘The Wife's Prologue has little thematic connection with her Tale'. How far do you agree?
  3. Examine how Chaucer uses first person narration in both The Prologue and The Tale to present the character of the Wife.
  4. How successful, in your view, is the Wife's attack on ant-feminism in her Prologue? To what extent do you think that Chaucer undermines her case by allowing her to reveal deceitful and violent behaviour?
  5. ‘The Wife's Prologue and her Tale are both mainly about the struggle for ‘maistrye' between men and women.' How far do you agree?
  6. Examine the Wife's skills as a narrator and story-teller in her Prologue and Tale.
  7. In what ways does Chaucer shape the reader's judgement of the Wife?
  8. What do think are the major themes of the Wife's Tale? To what extent do you find these themes relevant to the Wife and the account of her marriages which she gives in her Prologue?
  9. Examine how any one of the following is explored in both the Wife's Prologue and in her Tale – sexuality, marriage, power, wealth, authority, judgement.
  10. Examine l.235-307 (‘Sire old kaynard..' to ‘I wol him noght ..'). Show how these lines of the Wife's monologue reveal her character and her relationships with her older husbands. Pay as much attention in your response to how she speaks as to what she actually says.
  11. ‘Venus me yaf my lust … /... Mars .. my sturdy hardiness.' How does Chaucer reveal these qualities of the Wife of Bath in her Prologue?
  12. Examine l.882-918 (‘And so bifel it ..' to ‘And taketh his leve ..'). How are Chaucer's qualities as a story-teller shown in these lines?
  13. How coherent are the views expressed by the Wife in her Prologue and Tale?
  14. Examine l.1109-1176 (‘But for ye speken ..' to ‘To liven vertuously ..') in which the Old Woman puts forward her view of what makes a person noble. How convincing do you find this argument in terms of content and the way in which it is presented?
  15. To what extent is The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale an anti clerical satire?
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