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The Idea of a Growth Mindset in The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, written during the 14th century, explores the stories told by multiple characters for the prize of a free supper and night stay in the Canterbury Inn. One character in particular, the Wife of Bath, tells a story which object against the current status quos of the 14th century. While The Wife of Bath challenges the social norms of the 14th century, the idea of a growth mindset can also be seen near the end of the story through the discussion between the Knight and the Old Hag. The Wife of Bath makes usage of the character’s situations to oppose the social quos of the 14th century as well as making use of the conversation between the Old Hag and the Knight to showcase the idea of a growth mindset.

Before The Wife of Bath’s story begins, a number of abnormalities in her lifestyle can already be seen. Right away, the Wife of Bath mentions that, “There’ll be no marrying for me this year!”. However, during the 14th century, women were usually expected to and pursued marriage at a young age. Although, The Wife of Bath’s decision to not marry again is unusual, since it was highly desired among those who followed Christianity. Secondly, throughout the actual Tale of The Wife of Bath, the notion that women are inferior to men is rejected. Prior to the Knight’s sentencing, the Queen demands that the king shall, “Exercise his grace” and therefore, “ceaselessly, gave the queen the case”. Although during this period of time men usually upheld the most power over others, the queen makes the ultimate decision as to the knight’s fate.

Not only does The Wife of Bath’s Tale object to the social norms of the 14th century, but the idea of a growth mindset can also be seen through the story’s outcome. Near the end of the tale the knight is faced with a decision whether to have his wife remain old and ugly but loyal or, young and beautiful but unfaithful. Again the knight leaves the choice to his wife stating, “I leave the matter to your wise decision.” Not only does the knight’s decision test the status quo of this time, but it also displays a growth mindset as he uses previous experience to base his judgement. Finally, the usage of a growth mindset can be seen during this knight’s sentencing from the queen. The queen grants the knight, “A twelvemonth and a day to seek and learn”. However, the knight comes across varying answers but nevertheless continues to seek the ultimate thing women desire. Despite the knight’s frustration from varying answers, his remains on the quest to honor his code of chivalry.

In multiple times throughout, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, it is evident that the status quos or normalities of the era are constantly challenged. Many instances in the story create situations in which the idea of women being inferior to men is broken. The Knight’s sentencing and his decision to give his wife the ultimate choice showcases the social challenges throughout the story. Lastly, The Wife of Bath’s Tale also demonstrates the idea of a growth mindset through the knight’s learning on past decisions. Overall, The Wife of Bath’s Tale makes usage of the situations and choices that the characters must undergo to challenge status quos and show a growth mindset.

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The Idea of a Growth Mindset in the Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2022, from
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