In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” the knight’s punishment for raping a girl is to set out on a year long journey to find out what women desire most. This story is sexist portraying women in a negative light. The tale portrays women as tricksters and seducers. The answer to what women desire most in the tale is “A women want the self same sovereignty over her husband as over her lover” (143). Once a women married a man has no fear of losing her, she can no longer use her charms against him.
Second, she considers sexual organs to satisfy both practical and pleasurable uses in life. The Wife then declares that virginity should be left to the perfect; the sinners should be able to use their gifts. The Wife of Bath takes great pleasure in controlling the men in her life through her sexual power. Her first three husbands were rich, old, and submissive. Her fourth husband was a bad husband and died soon after they were married.
In What Women want: the Wife of Bath and the Modern Woman, Gwen Brewer discusses the revolutionary change occurring today in the lives of women. She compares these new gender advancements to The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale when women were valued only for their maternal and sexual characteristics. The Wife of Bath serves as an example for women as she is able to break out of these misogynistic gender roles and do what she wants to do. In this article, Brewer proclaims the Wife of Bath as a feminist character, as can be seen in her appearance and actions. The author begins her article by retelling the prologue and tale of the Wife of Bath.
A great example of this is found in the medieval literature “The Canterbury Tales.” In the tale “The Wife of Bath's” the wife gloats about the power she has over all five of her husbands. “I kept my husbands well in hand. I told them they were drunk and their unfitness to judge my conduct forced me to take witness that they were lying” (Canterbury Tales, page 268.) The Wife’s deception against her husband gave her the upper hand in marriage. Stating that trickery was instinct in a woman.
Women are projected throughout history as seductresses. Empires have been lost kingdoms have been destroyed because of women’s evil nature. Helen of Troy and Cleopatra both are examples of how women could destroy empires. Today my research addresses the question how Lady Macbeth and Curley’s wife are used as tools of narrative. The novel Macbeth was set in the 16th century and of Mice and Men was set in the 1930s almost three centuries apart.
All depict women as powerful figures who use their wits to make a better life for themselves. In The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, we are introduced to the wife herself. She may embody many of the negative stereotypes men have of women, but there is no doubt that she is cunning and intelligent. She weds five husbands and walks over nearly all of them, proving the stigma that men wear the pants in a marriage is wrong. She uses her sexuality and verbal abuse to emotionally manipulate her significant others.
Throughout the entirety of her lengthy Prologue, the Wife of Bath boasts of her experience and mastery in controlling the male sex. Rather than being characterized by her weakness, the Wife of Bath is portrayed as a dominant and sexually powerful woman, thus contradicting the stereotypical portrayal of women as inferior beings. Throughout the Middle Ages, women were expected to submit to their husbands. The Wife of Bath, however, expects her husbands to submit to her, “An housbonde I wol have, I nyl nat lette, / Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral” (155-156). The Wife characterizes her husbands as both her “debtor” and her “slave,” suggesting a severely unbalanced relationship in which the Wife has complete control.
During Shakespeare’s time period, women were mostly considered babymakers and housekeepers. Women were thought to be ignorant and were only around to look pretty. Lady Macbeth, however, reversed these stereotypes becoming a strong and key character in Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is a very interestingly dynamic character who ruthlessly becomes queen of Scotland though her ambition and manipulation. Lady Macbeth is first introduced as an ambitious woman when she is reading Macbeth’s letter in act 1.5.