A lot of writers talk about what do women want, and they have different opinions about it. Women want all kinds of things, they want money, they want love and they even want sex. But, what are women purely looking for? Chaucer talked about it in his Canterbury Tales by telling the prologue and tale of Wife of Bath. In the tale of Wife of Bath, he started this discussion with a queen’s question. “What thing it is that women most desire” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 49). And he finally told the answer to people that women want “sovereignty” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 182). Chaucer gave out the question about what do women desire, and then gave the answer to the question. As he was explaining that in The Wife of Bath’s Tale, he described that women want to dominate their husbands and love in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue by telling the story that happened between Alison and her five husbands. All the facts and details point out that women want domination. Even know that some times Alison failed to control Jenkin, she tries to do that and was successfully doing that most time. And when she failed to dominate Jenkin, she would be mad.
Jenkin had a book which he called it “Theophrastus”(Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 661) and “Valerius”(Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 661). In this book, it had many stories about that women and wives made some bad consequences by their actions and decisions. Every time when Alison tried to go out herself at night, Jenkin would read those stories to make her feel bad and unhappy. Alison wanted to stop him and do what she decided to do, because she wanted to control Jenkin. She thought that Jenkin should listen to what she was saying and do what she was asking him to do, instead of trying to make her do what he wanted her to do. In Alison’s opinion, she should be the one who make the decision and dominate their home. So, she thought she could go out and do whatever she want, Jenkin should not have problems with that. But, since Jenkin was not like her previous husbands, he would not listen to her all the time; Alison finally got mad. She was beaten by Jenkin and lay on the floor, she asked Jenkin to kiss her before she die.
By doing that, Jenkin promised he would not beat again, and the most important thing is that “He put the bridle reins within my hand to have the governing of house and land; and of his tongue and of his hand, also; and made him burn his book, right then, oho” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 803-806). She was beaten by Jenkin all the time, but she had never given up having the domination of her home, love and husband. She finally made Jenkin listen to what she was saying and do what she was asking him to do, she even made him burn his precious book. And when she made him do what she wanted him to do, she felt so happy because of the domination she got. Alison controlled her first three husbands pretty well. She married them when she was still young, she married them because of money and she made them do everything for her. They “were rich and old” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 197), but they helped her, gave her their “gold” ( Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 204) and “treasure” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 204), and loved her so well. She can hold them wholly in her hand and govern them so well by her own law. She wanted husbands who could be controlled by her.
She said her husbands should be “ Who shall be both my debtor and thrall and have his tribulations there withal upon his flesh, he while I an his wife” ( Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 155-157), and she also said that “I have the power during all my life over his own good body, and not he” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 158-159). She went to neighbor’s home and probably wanted to do something wrong with the neighbor, but she accused that her husband should not believe the gossip about her. And she accused that her husband blame her like a “fiend” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 244), even her husband did not do that, she tried to make him believe he did. She did that to make him feel guilty, and then she could have more reasons to dominant him. She wanted to win the argument which was between her husband and her, because she believed that her husband should be controlled by her.
She had witness and told her husband that he said all the things when he was drunk. Her husband could not find what she said was not truth, so he had to admit he did all that. That was a part of domination. Her husbands could not win her by an argument, she could make her husbands believe all she was saying. Her husbands would always be losers when they faced to her. She enjoyed that, that made she feel she was the top one of her marriage, family and love. She married them for money, she made them do everything for her. Because she made everything under her controlling, her first three husbands loved her so much, they felt like they could not lose her, and they would feel happy when she said them fair. All she wanted in her marriage was domination. In The Wife of Bath’s Tale, Alison told a story about a knight. The knight was supposed to find out that what women were desiring to save his own life. He asked many people, some said that women wanted “best riches” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 69); some said that women wanted “fair fame” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 70); and some said that women wanted “prettiness” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, 70).
He finally met an “old wife” ( Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 142) , “Then whispered she a sentence in his ear, And bade him to be glad and have no fare” ( Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 165-166). He came back to the queen, and said the answer to all the people that “Women desire to have the sovereignty as well upon their husband as their love, and to have mastery their man above” (Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 182-184). Chaucer described this answer in this story by two women, the queen and the old wife. The queen asked the knight to find the answer that what do women like most. If he could find the answer, he did not have to be dead, but if he could not, he would lose his life. By doing that, the queen controlled the knight ‘s most important thing which was life, she made the knight did what she wanted to do. The knight had no choice, he either did what the queen wanted him to do or lost his life. That means, the queen could the knight in her hand. And the old wife who told him the right answer also wanted to dominate him.
The old wife gave him the right answer, but she also said that “ you will take me for you wife” ( Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 199). She knew she was old and foul and poor, but she wanted to have the love from the knight. She tried to make the knight do what she said he should do, no matter the knight was willing to or not. She said to the knight that she would be his true love and wife; even the knight refused to do that, the wold wife did not give up. Finally, the knight let the old wife become his wife, but the old wife accused him that he made her feel so lonely. The old wife wanted the knight her better. After a while,he found out that the old wife can be young and beautiful. His wife gave him choices, he could an old and foul wife with true love, or he could have a young and beautiful wife who would take all his chances away. To answer this question, the knight said that “My lady and my love, and wife so dear; I put myself in your wise governing; Do you choose which may be the more pleasing, and bring most honor to you, and me also. I care not which it be of these things two; for if you like it, that suffices me” ( Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, 374-379).
The old wife made the knight be that way she wanted him to be, and she made the knight be willing to living under her governing. That was her purpose and she did it successfully. Alison governed Jenkin. She may not be able to dominate him as well as she had done to her first three husbands, but she made Jenkin do what she wanted him do most time. Especially after they had the argument about the book Jenkin had. Jenkin promised that he would listen to what Alison said and do what she asked him to do. Alison governed her first three husbands very well. She could make them do everything for her, even she did not treat them very well.
She made them love her so much, and made herself be the top one of her love and family. They could not win her in an argument; they could not stop her doing what she was willing to do. They could not control her, but she could control them. The queen and the old wife governed the knight as well. The knight had to what the queen asked him to do, unless he did not mind being dead. The old wife made him married her when she was still old and foul and poor, and finally made him be willing to be governed by her. These three women wanted to govern men and did it as well as they wished. Through them, it is easily to know that women want domination upon their husbands, their love and their families.