Rape and Power in the “Wife of Bath” The word rape during the era 1380 was used to refer to abducting a woman contrary to its meaning in today’s society. The story behind The Wife Of Bath revolves around the allegations of rape imposed against Chaucer by Cecily Chaumpaigne. The Wife Of Bath could be said to be a very provocative woman when compared to today’s women. She was considered a valuable woman because of the attention that she received especially from male colleagues. She used to brag to those whom she shared her time with her sexual escapades and has had and divorced five husbands within various stated duration of time.
Of her five husbands, she placed them into two groups, old, rich ones who could not meet her sexual desires and young ones who were not controllable but satisfied her sexual pleasures (Williams 69). The first three husbands were considered rich and old. She exercised control over them by accusing them that they were promiscuous yet it was she who was promiscuous. The fourth one was into another affair with a different woman, therefore making The Wife Of Bath to be jealous of her mistress.
She met her fifth husband at the funeral of her first husband. During the era, women who were considered to be in the mid ages were not known to many as compared to other groups of women. They were considered as property as they were under the care of their parents who would later transfer them to their husbands. They did not have a say on any issue which required decisions to be made as this issue were left for men to solve.
However, despite not being given an opportunity to air their views, they experienced emotions, entered into marriages and were divorced just like in the present society (Evans 330). The Wife Of Bath story talks about power struggles by and the parties who were enjoyed authority in marriages and other relationships. As portrayed in the tale, the only power that the woman enjoyed was that over their husbands whom they would manipulate into doing their bidding while the men were considered to display authority of other things in the society.
By having power over their husbands women as considered by the knights are satisfied as they have a sense of feeling that they have experienced power which brings along control (Hallida 119). Analysis of the tale of the Knight who raped a maiden and left his fate to lie in the hands of the queen reveals that the knight is morally raped by the queen. This is because the King in the Wife Of Bath tale represent authority and by the queen speaking of the knight’s life to be spared signifies that she exerts the extent of authority with which she controls the life of the Knight.
However, it also shows in a way women in their heart wishes to be raped to mean that as much as they cry out that they are being abused, they always want that element of control and authority to be shown to them from their male counterparts. Work CitedEvans, Joan. The Flowing Middle Ages. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1966. Fuller, Maurice.
Chaucer and His England. Williamstown: Corner House Publishers, 1976.Hallida, I.E. Chaucer and His World. New York: Viking Press, 1968.Williams, David. The Canterbury Tales, A Literary Pilgrimage. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.