Sovereignty, Supremacy, and Dominance in The Wife of Bath Essay examples

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Sovereignty, Supremacy, and Dominance in The Wife of Bath

When reading the wife of Baths prologue and then her tale one can not help but to see the parallels present. The major parallel that exists is the subject of sovereignty. Who has it, which wants it, which deserves it and what will you do to get it? First we see that the Wife claims to have sovereignty over each of her husbands even though some were harder to gain dominance over than others. Then there is the tale where we find the answer to the question, “What do women want?”, sovereignty over their husbands. Finally we see the Wife’s idealized version of marriage in her tale. The hag gains control over the knight by forcing him to marry her, then giving him control to decide
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If they had given the wife dominance, according to the hag, their lives would not have ended as they did. The hag prays at the end of the Wife’s tale that Jesus cut short the lives of those who’ll not be governed by their wives, “And grace t’overbide hem that we wedde. / And eek I praye Jesu shorte hir lives / That nought wol be governed by hir wives”(281.1266-1268)*. In her prologue The Wife of Bath says she gained sovereignty over each of her husbands,
“And thus of oo thing I avaunte me: / At ende I hadde the bet in eech degree, / By sleighte or force, or by som manere thing, / As by continuel murmur or grucching; / Namely abedde hadden they meschaunce: / There wolde I chide and do hem no plesaunce; / I wolde no lenger in the bed abide” (262-263.409-415).
She gained control by using any and every technique she knew, which includes the withholding of “pleasure”, which we see in line 414 above. Instead of her husbands living a long life which her tale suggests in lines 1266 - 1268 by asking that Jesus take the lives of those husbands that are not controlled by there wives, the Wife of Bath gains sovereignty and they still die? Hardly, This parallel brings up the question of what really happened to husbands one through four, and is husband number five sitting at home or has he also found himself six feet under? Is it a coincidence that she came home from her last
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