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The Sex And Sexuality In The Wife Of Bath

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

In “The Canterbury Tales: the Wife of Bath Prologue” by Geoffrey Chaucer, it portrays how the Wife of Bath uses her power over her sexuality and whom she lays in bed with, as leverage over the men in her life. With this power, she is able to control the men in her life by getting them to prove thyself worthy of the gift she may or may not gift them, which in this case, sex. As the men of her society are able to be controlled by the power of sex as they crave it like it is a wonderful feast. In the Wife of Bath, it displays the perspective of the Wife of Bath on how she chooses to use her sexuality, the perspective of Chaucer of how sees the Wife of Bath as, and what stands out about the ways sex and sexuality are protrayed in this tale.

In the perspective of the Wife of Bath, she chooses to use her sexuality in a way where she is able to gain control over her husbands by getting them to do what she pleases. As she states, “I would not stay in the bed if I felt my husband’s arm over me, until he had paid me his bride; then I would allow him to do his business with me” (Chaucer 180-181). This shows that the Wife of Bath had control of the situation in a way where she had chosen to leave the bed if her husband hadn’t wedded her, but if he did then she would stay and allow him to do whatever she may agree too. In the prologue, it also states the Wife of Bath advice, “I give everybody this advice: anyone can profit, for everything is for sale; with an empty hand a man lures no hawks. For profit, I would suffer through all his lust and pretend enjoyment…” (Chaucer 181). This allows women to know what saying she had followed in concern of how she thought men to think. This proves that men would easily use a woman if she had easily given what they had asked and then leave them without a promise of marriage, but if they had done what the Wife of Bath did where she had gotten what she wanted, which was marriage, then and only then did she give them what they had pleased from her. She did it in a way where both she and he benefited from this kind of transaction. The Wife of Bath uses her sexuality as a way to be able to control men by getting them to agree to what she wants from them, as long as she is benefiting from it, she in turn, would “fake it till she makes it.”

In the perspective of Chaucer, he makes the Wife of Bath to be this character in which uses the power of her sexuality and of her control over sex as someone who is able to get what she wants. Since she doesn’t allow just anyone to be gifted with her “special gift”, she is able to pick and choose who gets gifted under her rules and standards. As she states, “As I hope God will be my salvation, I never made love from expediency, but only because I wanted to, I didn’t care whether he was short or tall, black or white, how poor he was or of what rank. It didn’t matter, so long as he pleased me.” In this case, the Wife of Bath wanted a man who was able to please her in order to gain what both he and she wanted. She also was shown to not make love out of expediency where she just did it out of convenience as being improper, she instead only “did it” because she wanted to and not because she was pressured too. Chaucer had portrayed the Wife of Bath as being a woman who did what she wanted since she believed in comfortably in her own action rather than everyone else’s. She had made her own decisions when it came to her sexuality since it was her body and morals. Chaucer made up this character to show that we, as women are in control of our body and our morals as nobody but ourselves are able to dictate what we do and how we do it.

The sexuality and sex that stands out in this tale is the way that Wife of Bath uses hers and the way that she contained from having sex with her husband unless she wanted too. When it comes to the Wife of Bath sexuality she uses it in a way where she makes her husband works for it. As it states in the prologue, “As a wife, I will use my instrument as freely as God gave it to me. If I am standoffish, may God send me sorrow! My husband shall have me both morning and evening, whenever he wishes to come forth and pay his debt”. This displays that the Wife of Bath uses her sexuality as she pleases as long as her husband is paying his debt to her, meaning he is getting what she wants and needs. In the part where she says “If I am standoffish, may God send me sorrow,” the Wife of Bath meant that if the husband no longer provides what she wants then she would rather him be gone, so she can later marry someone who will please her as she wants. She states she uses her husband as “both my debtor and my slave” as she is in “command of his body during all his life, not he”. The Wife of Bath is, in turn, the person who is in control over their significant other as others may have thought that the men were surely in control of the relationship. This proves that women who are in control of their sexuality and the sex are able to be the one in control of their relationship with their significant other since they are the ones saying what happens and what doesn’t happen.

Overall, the Tale of the Wife of Bath can be seen to include the perspective of the Wife of Bath of how she is in control of her sexuality, the perspective of Chaucer in the means of why he created a character like the Wife of Bath and finally the ways that sex and sexuality are portrayed in this tale. The Wife of Bath is in control of her sexuality in a way where she doesn’t allow moves to be placed on her without being named his bride since she uses the advice of her own to prove that she is worth more than just a simple lay. Chaucer created a character like the Wife of Bath simply because he wanted to prove that women are able to control their own decisions when it comes to their morals and beliefs of her own body. The part that stood out of the sexuality and sex of the tale is how the Wife of Bath used hers as a way to get what she wanted and the way she used sex as a leash to be in control of both her husband and the relationship. The Wife of Bath changed how sex and sexuality are portrayed in the modern society as it proves that women aren’t solidify to be control of men but rather we, as women are able to be the ones in control as we stand up for what we believe in. 

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