Chaucer's Wife of Bath is a domineering woman who demands the men in her life to be subservient. The reader gains from her prologue that she is concerned with sovereignty, which she views as the control or mastery in the relationship. She does not appear to truly love any of her husbands. The first three are older men whom she seems to marry for their money. They pass on quickly leaving her with wealth, standing, and the chance to find herself a more suitable man. Her fourth husband was a profligate, a man of loose morals, who keeps a mistress. His death does not cause her any grief. Alison's fifth and current husband is a clerk who reads a great deal of anti-feminist literature. This is offensive to her ideals of how a woman should act and be treated, which is reflected in her tale. Her tale is considered by Marion Wynne-Davies to be ". . . a conventional Arthurian romance with an inserted homily on the importance of individual gentilesse' or nobility of character." (6) This is an accurate description of the nature of her tale. The tale involves a young knight who dishonours himself by raping a woman whom he caught alone in the woods. He is brought before the king, who happens to be Arthur, who allows the queen to devise the knight's punishment. She sends the knight on a quest to discover ". . . What thyng is it that wommen moost desiren." (905) He searches for a long time before happening upon an old hag who gives him the answer upon his promise he will marry her. She tells him that what every woman wants is sovereignty over her husband. Upon their wedding night she shows that she can change form into a beautiful young woman. With this she allows the knight to choose whether:
To han me foul and old til that I deye,
And be to yow a trewe, humble wyf,
And nevere yow displese in al my lyf,
Or elles ye wol han me yong and fair,
And take youre aventure of the repair
Thatshal be to youre hous by cause of me,
Or in som oother place, may wel be.
This is a test for the knight to prove if he has learned what women want. He gives the choice back to her affirming...