The Wife of Bath

1326 Words6 Pages
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is the story of a large group of men and women going to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. Each of the travellers introduces themselves and tells an interesting tale during their journey. One of the travellers, the Wife of Bath shares her views on social relationships between men and women. The fourteenth century is viewed as having a patriarchal dominated society. However, the Wife of Bath, Alisoun, is a strong believer in female maistrie, control in the marriage. She believes in female supremacy over husbands in marriage, and does not feel they can be equal partners in the relationship. Through her prologue and tale the wife justifies the actions she and other women make in their marriages. She…show more content…
The wife ridicules the performance of her husband in bed so they give her everything she wants. By ridiculing her husband’s and telling them they are bad in bed she convinces them to give her more money to make up for their sexual incompetence. Therefore, the Wife of Bath shows the travellers how she uses her sexuality and forcefulness to gain maistrie over each of her husband’s.
The main theme of the Wife’s tale is female supremacy over the men. The tale closely resembles the wife’s introduction as she can be seen as the old hag. Because the knight is weak from the mistresses tempting flesh, the Queen is given the power over him. When the King sentences the Knight to execution for raping a female, the Court hands the Queen the power and she gives him another chance. The Queen makes a deal with the knight in which she states; “I grante thee lyf, if thou kanst tellen me/What thyng is it that wommen moost desiren. /Be war, and keep thy nekke-boon from iren! /And if thou kanst nat tellen it anon, /Yet wol I yeve thee leve for to gon.” (l. 910-914) Therefore, the Queen is in control when she makes the deal with the knight. It is the Queen who will determine if his answer is adequate. The King usually makes the important decisions for the kingdom, however; the Wife of Bath adapts her tale to show female maistrie. Therefore, the Queen in the Wife of Bath’s tale, although in an

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