However, later, in her "Tale" the Wife of Bath presents another opinion - women wish to have emotional power over their husbands as well. The fact that the hag is able to decide for herself whether to turn into a beautiful wife or to remain in her present state, manifests her power over the husband. It is up to her whether to make the knight the happiest men on earth or to make him miserable for as long as she lives:
She, like many women of her time and ours, wants control over her husbands and will do what it takes to gain it. She tells us how she gained control over her husbands, even when it lead to the oldest trick in the book, withholding “pleasures”. Then she backed up her desire for sovereignty by telling us in her tale that it was not just herself who wanted this dominance, but every woman wants the same, even if they don’t know it. Finally she idealizes what she wants from a husband with the tale of the knight and the hag. If only it were as simple as the tale told.
The major characters of the Tale of the Wife of Bath are the old crone and Jankin (one of King Arthur's knights). Her Tale begins with a knight, Jankin, who when riding home one day found a maiden walking alone and raped her. This crime usually held the penalty of death, but the queen intervened and begged her husband to spare the knight. She told the knight that she would grant his life if he could answer the question "what do women most desire?" She gave him one year to find the answer.
The Wife of Bath, Dame Alice is quite a spiteful woman even though she desires only a few simple things in life; power and control. Through her prologue and tale, she makes mirror images of herself , which reflects the person who she really is. Dame Alice desires the obvious in life, but what she most desires above all is being more powerful than her man, her spouse, and her lover. In a relationship, she wishes to be dominant, the one who has the last to say, the one who has control over all things in the relationship. This can be first seen in her prologue, "I'll have a husband yet who shall be both my debtor and my slave and bear his tribulation to the grave upon his flesh, as long as I'm his wife.
Does she do so in favor of a mutually blissful marriage or to conform to patriarchal ideals? Perhaps Chaucer and the Wife of Bath are suggesting that male rehabilitation and female dominance are only necessary up to a point. Once the knight and the hag achieve a shared understanding they are able to coexist. Or perhaps in the very end both Chaucer and the Wife of Bath acknowledge that this kind of understanding is sheer fantasy and the Wife cruses the couple for good luck and protection. With both these valid possibilities, the tale presents a mixed message about the place of feminism and female authority.
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 exemplifies such control in her prologue which summarizes her life, the Queen in her tale, and the Old hag in the tale. In each case the women in the relationship exercises control over her husband.
If a woman was not married, then the needs of her father were attended by her. Higher class women did childbearing and household supervision and if their man was away for business she would manage their estate giving up her power as soon as he retuned. Women in Canterbury Tales had a bit of a different role which was to break free from a man’s dominance in a secretive unnoticed way, and provide faithful and loyal devotion and love to a man and his decisions. Such a beautiful woman should be treated and taken care of, for the one she lay with now may no... ... middle of paper ... ...women most desire is to “hold complete sovereignty over her husband”(http://www.grommersoft.com/content/view/191/43/). They do not want to be seen as a toy you play with for one day and put away when she not wanted.
She also encourages the readers to take action against this treatment of women and also wants the husbands to stop unfair treatment of their wives, including their attitude of demanding too much from their wives. She also tried to encourage women who are unconscious of such activities and being quite against the treatment of their husband, thinking this as the part of the traditional “home wife”. The author also wants people, especially women to get angry and feel emotional, with this
The Knight then comes before his queen and states his newfound knowledge, which she is completely taken aback that he has figured out the solution to her riddle. After he is released, the old lady comes back up to him and reminds him of the deal that they struck not so long ago, but its a cliffhanger. The old lady wants to marry him. He is wary and at first completely disagreed saying that anything else would be a better solution to the wager, but the old women is persistent and he finally agrees. They get married shortly after, a very private affair, and then the story switches to their wedding bed.
The Quest for Power in The Wife of Bath The Wife of Bath is a very envious women, who desires only a few simple things in life. She likes to make mirror images of herself, through her stories, which in some way reflects the person who she really is. This is all proven through the many ways she portrays her characters. The Wife of Bath desires the obvious in life, but what she most desires above all is being more powerful than her man, her spouse, and her lover. In a relationship, she wishes to be the dominant of the two.