Activity Overview

There is a long-standing debate over whether Chaucer’s portrayal of the Wife of Bath portrays him as an early feminist, or a typical misogynist of the time period. This activity prompts students to do some research on feminism and misogyny first, either in groups or individually, and after reading the story, to form an opinion of how Chaucer is portraying the Wife of Bath in her Prologue. Have students create a Storyboard that depicts “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue” from the student’s opinion and provide support based upon their research.

Feminist Perspective:

Cell 1: The Wife of Bath, Alyson, has been married five times, and she explains how she has been in control of most of these marriages. She views herself as an expert on the woes of marriage.

Cell 2: She uses biblical examples, including King Solomon, to show that being married so many times is a positive thing. She’s even excited to meet her sixth husband.

Cell 3: She says that while the Apostle Paul preaches the importance of virginity, she smartly points out that someone needs to create more virgins. After all, God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply.

Cell 4: Alyson’s fifth marriage, to Jankyn, was for love and not money. She gives him everything and he gives her nothing. He tries to control her because his younger age makes him insecure.

Cell 5: Jankyn reads to Alyson every evening about wicked wives. She finally becomes so annoyed that she rips the book and punches Jankyn. He strikes her back, causing her to go deaf in one ear. She lures him to her, pretending to be dying, and hits him again.

Cell 6: This leads to a truce between the two, and Jankyn gives Alyson all of the power in their marriage. She also makes him burn the book. She gains the power back over her dignity, and her marriage.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Type of Activity: Point of View vs. Perspective

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/4] Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/9-10/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically

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