Desire of the Fourteenth Century Women
Is not what we desire, the most hard to get? It has always been this way. Unfortunately, women’s rights and abilities have been underestimated over the centuries. In the fourteenth century, the status and condition of a European woman depended on her husband’s position. Women had to endure arranged marriages, abuse and male dominance. During that time, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales and taught us about one extraordinary woman whose name is Dame Alisoun. Alisoun is called The Wife of Bath, and she defines what women desired most in fourteenth-century England. She believes that women wish for power over their husbands, and I personally agree with her opinion.
The Wife of Bath, a cloth maker, gets rich after her husbands die and leave her their fortunes. Even though medieval women were still far from being powerful, and had to obey their husbands, Alisoun states that she has power over her men’s bodies and property all her life: “ I have the power during al my life, Upon his proper body, and nat he”(line 164). Alisoun is an exception to the rule because she marries five times and is widowed five times. It is important to mention that there was no divorce for women in the fourteenth century: “She was a worthy woman al hr live. Husbondes at chirche dore she hadde five, Withouten other compaignye in youthe” (line 461). The three first husbands are old, rich and loyal to her. The fourth husband has a mistress: “My ferthe housbonde was a revelour. This is to sayn, he hadde a paramour” (line 459). The Wife of Bath learns that it is very important for a woman to satisfy her man, and she knows how to act to make him obedient and less powerful. To get more power over her fifth husband, she fakes being murdered, “Thief, thus muchel am I wreke. Now wol I die: I may no lenger speeke” (line 815), and makes him sorry so that she can rule in the house and regain mastery over the property.
When Alisoun looks for a new love, she does not care for money and is truly looking for affection: “And Janekin oure clerk was oon of tho. As help me God, whan that I saw him go. After the beere, me thoughte he hadde a paire of legges and of feet so clene and faire. That al myn herte I yaf unto his hold” (line 601). Alisoun learns quicky about men’s weak sides and chooses her tactics depending on the situation. In her "Prologue", the Wife of Bath points out that there are no women writers and that only men write. Everything described in Janekin’s book is written from the men’s point of view, and here Alisoun uses a painting as an analogy: “Who painted the...