The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Hodges, Laura F. "The Wife of Bath's Costumes: Reading the Subtexts." 27 (1993): 359-76.
Chaucer gives a number of details about the dress of the Wife of Bath, including some items assiociated with estates satire such as a headress and new shoes. Handlyng Synne includes a story about pride in which the headress figures prominently as an indication of the most deadly sin. During the Middle Ages, extravagant headgear was also associated with quarrelsome women. The Wife's coverchiefs seem to indicate her submissive station as a wife, but they also proclaim her wealth as a cloth-maker. The Wife's travelling attire is the same as her Sunday clothes in practicality and display of wealth. The Wife's costuming also refers to the fair exterior and foul interior pictured by Guillaume de Deguilleville as associated with pride.
Kennedy, Beverly. "Cambridge MS. Dd.4.24: A Misogynous Scribal Revision of the Wife of Bath's Prologue?" 30 (1996): 343-58.
Cambridge Dd.4.24 is a unique manuscript in Chaucer studies because dating indicates that a scribe copied it within 25 years of Chaucer's death and because it includes five sizable, additional sections and renumbers the Wife's husbands. The additions villify women and make the Wife of Bath more misogynistic. Examination of the these passages suggests that the scribe who copied the Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale added the material, since much of it contradicts what Chaucer has already said about the Wife. The renumbering of her husbands increases the coherence of the final section of her Prologue. Together, the interpolations and the renumbering of the husbands make the Wife merely the typical subject of estates satire. Since these changes lessen the ambiguity for which Chaucer is noted, scholars must assume that the five passages are scribal, rather than Chaucerian, revisions.