The Power of the Woman
The Canterbury Tales by Gregory Chaucer are set around the time of Medieval England. Specifically, “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” takes place during King Arthur’s rule in the 600s. In, “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” Gregory Chaucer uses satire as a form of humor to point out the underlying power that women have in Medieval England. As the knight struggles to find out what women desire most, he stumbles upon this old woman known as Crone. After the knight grants his freedom he must answer to the old woman and do whatever she wants, thus leading her to take control over his life.
The tale starts off as a knight riding into town on a horse where he spots a young maiden. After he approaches the maiden, he rapes her and leaves her emotional and vulnerable. The maiden’s rape stirs up so much anguish that the townspeople made petitions to King Arthur to resolve the issue. Once King Arthur finds out about the crime, he makes the decision to sentence the knight to death. However, once the queen advices her husband to have mercy for the knight, King Arthur allows his wife to make the final decision. The queen gives the knight an alternative task in the hope of sparing his life. She tells him, if he can find out what it is that women desire the most within a year, then he will be able to avoid death. As the knight searches through the town he receives a variety of answers. Some women say they desire: wealth and treasure, honor, pleasure, fancy clothes, and others happiness.
During the knight’s search for the answer he sees the ferry woman (also known as Crone) in order to have someone to confide about the challenges he is facing while finding the answer to the Queen’s question. The Crone tells the knight that she will provid...
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...e, she asks him the type of wife he prefers to have his responds by allowing her to control the outcome of events. By the men letting the women take control in this story, they are surrendering their own power and are handing it over to their wives. This exemplifies an effective use of satire because in Medieval England, women were not the ideal person to have control or power whatsoever. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” points out that although women are not originally in a high place of power, they are capable of using their physical appearances to control their husbands both a sexual and emotion way. Over all “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” is a well thought out tale that is the perfect depiction of how women in Medieval England are not usually in a high position of power but can still have the ability to control the lives of not only themselves but their husbands as well.
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