The Wife Of Bath Sovereignty Supremacy And

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The Wife Of Bath: Sovereignty, Supremacy, And Dominance Essay, Research Paper The Wife of Bath: Sovereignty, supremacy, and dominance 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 her loyalty, he cant chose so he gives up all control to her just like that and it?s over, the end, they live happily ever after. We encounter the first issue of sovereignty when the Wife of Bath is telling us about herself in her prolog. She mentions that three of her husbands were good because they were old and rich. She then tells us how she controlled each one. The last two were not as easy as the first three, but they too eventually handed all authority to her, they were just a bit of a challenge. When we read the Wife?s tale we see a woman much like herself in the hag. The hag is by all accounts the idealized version of the wife of Bath. The Wife wants control over her husbands, and most likely does not get what she wants from every

husband, and the hag gets what she wants from the beginning. Even though the Wife claims to have had sovereignty over her husbands she slips when telling her tale and informs us that she wishes an early death to those men whom do not let their wives gain supremacy over them. This peek into her own thoughts about the subject seems to tell us that she infact did not really have control over all of her husbands since they all came to a sudden, unexpected deaths. 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 pilgrimage to find husband number four dead. The idea that those men who do not allow themselves to be ruled by there wives should come to an early death is enough proof that the Wife ?took care of? those husbands that did not follow her wishes. If one did not allow this control the Wife decided he should die and she then was free to marry again and start the cycle again. Since it is better to marry than to burn with passion. We also see sovereignty is the one thing that all women want from their husbands, in the