Gender Roles In The Wife Of Bath's Tale?

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Today a trending term to use when describing a difficult situation is “the struggle” or “the struggle is real”. People could be describing opening a can of green beans or pulling overtime at their job, but either way there is something they are identifying as an arduous situation. In medieval times, if social media were among the people, women would definitely be tweeting “verily mine struggle is most evident”. The general attitude towards women in medieval times was that they were inferior to men. Generally, women were taught that they should be meek and obedient to their fathers and husbands. (Schaus). There is a loop hole to this teaching, however. If a woman was unmarried, she had power and could hold land just as men did. (Schaus). When …show more content…
The knight in this story rapes a woman and is brought before the king for judgment. The normal punishment for this crime would be the beheading of the knight, but the queen “begged” the king to give the knight over to her for punishment. Really, I do not believe she begged in the way of being on her knees and pleading. She “begged” in the way of sensual coercion. Many women have this power over men in a regular relationship or marriage, and this is what saved the knights life for the moment. Once the queen had the knight, she gave him a deal, she says, “I grant your life, if you can answer me this question: what is the thing that most of all women desire?” (1750). She gives the knight a year to travel around and search for this answer. When a year is almost up and he is on his way home, bereft of the answer, he stumbles upon an old woman who seems promising. When he asks the question she says she will only give it to him if she grants her a request that is within his power. I will get to the answer later on, but he agrees. She gives him the answer, and he goes back to the queen. He presents his answer and all women in the court are silent because they know it is true. Now the old woman comes forward, admits she told him the answer in return for a request he must fulfill, and she says the request is marriage. This is a powerful scene. The knight is in a room where women are the main population. They have the power in numbers, and now a woman has the power to force him to marry. In this scene, we see a total flip in the balance of power. Wives are to be obedient to their husbands, but here we find a man has to be obedient to his future wife. Now the answer can be revealed. The answer he gave the queen was this, “Women desire to have the sovereignty and sit in rule and government above their husbands, and to have their way in love. This is what most you

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