The Wife of Bath
Journal Entry #1
Despite the complicated language, The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer is a tale of women sovereignty over a male dominated culture. I am a man, and also the son of a strong woman, and I am aware of the troubles and misfortunes women encounter because of gender.
The plot starts with the knight being overwhelmed by his own sense of power and lust, that he takes advantage of a young woman. The knight is rightfully accused and charged with rape and sentenced to death. Due to what I believe is curiosity and vengeance felt by the queen, she sentences him to seek the answer to a mysterious question that even myself has pondered over. The question is “ what do women desire the most?” This question, in my opinion, has no real answer, like the tale it varies from person to person, depending on the circumstance. The knight soon receives his answer but it ...view middle of the document...
After receiving the answer to the Queen’s question he would be free from pain. An old “hag” in the forest answered the question as mentioned; the answer is that women most desire the upper hand and sovereignty. The hag received these things after giving the knight his answer, which set him free. On their wedding night, the knight complained that his new wife was old and ugly and that she would never be beautiful. She responded by saying that he could have her old, ugly and faithful, or young, beautiful and deceitful. As per her request, the knight allowed her to make her own decision, and she become young beautiful and “good”.
As a man, and like most men, I know we all desire a woman that is pleasing to the eye and one that also has all the other qualities that we would like, both physical and internal. The older I become I realize that most important qualities of a woman are found within and not necessarily at face value. Considering his crime the knight did not learn a lesson that he will remember over time nor did he deserve to have the happy ending that was illustrated. When this ending is thought of realistically, I do not believe the tale’s ending is a positive one for the knight at all. Prior to falling in love with his beautiful wife, he was first deceived by a woman that is described to be old and ugly. So despite him now having what is thought to be beautiful and good still started out on false pretenses.
The narrator I think is telling this story to not only prove a point to men, but to also tell her opinion. The strength of this tale is that it is still relatable to woman and men today. Its weakness is that the story can be seen as biased. The knight can be seen as the villain to female readers because he committed crime and still lives a happy ending, and the old woman and the Queen, could be considered heroes for taking down the villain and having him now become inferior to them. To male readers, such as myself, all three characters are villains and both should suffer for being deceiving. The tale has a good message, in that woman should not be inferior to men, but it misses that goal that men and women should be equal.