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In the 'Wife of Bath's Tale' she describes the story of a knight who learns about woman's greatest desire and how to treat women.After a knight in King Arthur's court rapes a young maiden, the queen and ladies of the court decide to give the knight one year to study women and learn about a woman's greatest desire in order to avoid a beheading, which was the usual punishment for such behavior.
She discovered her attraction for her fifth husband, Jankyn, at her fourth husband's funeral, after being introduced to him by a friend previously.
Jankyn held traditional medieval views of women and read about his views from the Bible aloud, which upset the Wife of Bath.
The Wife of Bath describes several of her marriages and how she gained control in her relationships but lost several of her husbands to death.
The Wife of Bath entered into relationships with men, young and old, easily and based on her attraction to them. She admits to nagging her first three elderly rich husbands but also satisfying them sexually.
Just as the year is almost over the knight sees young maidens in a field who suddenly disappear as he approaches them; in their place all he sees is an old woman who agrees to save his life and help him understand women if he agreed to a deal with her.
The old lady tells the knight that woman's greatest desire is control over her husband, which is the correct answer to the queen's question.The Wife of Bath saw this as a victory over her fifth husband, and she remained a faithful wife to him until his death.These experiences taught the Wife of Bath that a marriage is happiest when a wife has control.Imagine being viewed as a temptress and creator of sin who destroyed men by your seductive nature.That's what life was like for women during medieval times.The Wife of Bath and several other characters are on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and tell stories to each other to pass the time along the way.The Wife of Bath begins her story using a prologue, which explains her life and her beliefs.In her frustration she hit Jankyn, ripped pages from his book, and he fell over into a fire.In retaliation, he hit her back, and she pretended to be dead until she gained sympathy from him, and he promised her anything if she would live.She believes that nagging men is one way for women to get what they want from men.For example, she criticized one of her husbands who complained of her spending practices.