Canterbury Tales Essay - Wife of Bath and the Battle of the Sexes:

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The Wife of Bath - The Battle of the Sexes

How far do you agree that in the battle of the sexes it is the wife of Bath who has the most effictive weapons and armour?

The Wife sees the relationship between men and women as a battle in which it is crucial to gain the upper hand, 'Oon of us two must bowen, douteless'
Her armour was indeed necessary, as in Medieval England, women definitley were second class citizens who were viewed as goods and chattels, with no financial independence. They were often beaten, and it is clearly in the Wife's nature to protect herself.

She uses weapons like her sexuality and her youth to make her husbands suffer, so much so that they feel impotent. 'How pitously a-night I made hem swinke!'
This weapon was highly effective with first three husbands who she managed to dominate, 'I hadde hem hoolly in myn hond'
and they handed over 'lond and hir tresoor' as she with held sex in order to get her own way with them. The Wife also used a weapon of deceit and she clearly comments that women have this weapon from birth, 'Swere and lyen as a womman kan'

She tells her audience that she would deliberately pick arguments and accuse her husbands of the very sins she herself is guilty of, because she admits that attack is the best form of defense,

'Whoso that first to mille comth, first grint;
I pleyned first, so was oure werre ystint'
The Wife claims that all the other wives are better treated than herself, 'sire olde kaynard, is this thyn array?
Why is my neighebours wyfs so gay?'
and commonly uses her weapon of nagging. She accuses them of being miserly, 'Why hidestow, with sorwe,
The keyes of thy cheste awey fro me?'
She easily attains power over her first three husbands in this way, as they usually always capitulated for the sake of peace, as she notes,

'They were ful glad whan I spak to hem faire
For, God it woot, I chidde hem spitously.'
These weaponry methods were highly effective with the...
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