Desire – The Wife of Bath

What do you desire? Is it love or family? The Wife of Bath was a woman, who desired only a few simple things in life. She made mirror images of herself, through her stories, which in some ways reflected the person she

really was. In our world, however, people desire so many more things. My desires are truly what I want to live by.

The Wife of Bath wished for the obvious wants of woman, but what she most desired above all, was being more powerful than her man, her spouse, her lover. In a relationship, she wished to be the dominant of the two. The Wife of Bath wanted to be the one who had the last say, the one who was in control and decided all of the matters in the relationship. This was shown in her tale when the knight fulfilled his task to her. “…a woman wants the self-same sovereignty over her husband and her lover. And master him: he must not be above her. This is your greatest wish… In the court not one that shook her head or contradicted what the knight had said…” (lines 164-170) The knight had spoken and fulfilled his quest; he found what women wanted the most. No women in the assembly disagreed with the knight’s reply and certainly not the old hag. According to this scene, true power was what women wanted the most.

There was another example of the desire that deals with power, beauty, and happiness for a woman in a relationship. The old hag, after marrying the knight, gives him a choice. She can either stay ugly and be faithful, or become beautiful and wonder. “My lady, my love, my dearest wife, I leave the matter to your wise decision. You make the choice yourself, for the provision. I don’t care which; whatever pleases you suffices me.” “Have I won the mastery?” she said. “Since I am to choose and rule as I think fit?” “Certainly, wife, that’s it.” (lines 310-318) Consequently, the hag became beautiful, yet still was faithful. This example shows how happy the woman became when she was given the power and beauty. She was so happy that she rewarded her husband by becoming beautiful. “And may Christ Jesus send us husbands that are meek and young and fresh in bed. And grace to overbid them when we wed and – Jesus hear my prayer! – cut short the lives of those who won’t be governed by their wives.” (lines 338-343) This desire also led to envy of the characters in the wife’s story.

By comparing the Wife of Bath’s prologue to her tale it becomes very visible that she is jealous of the old hag in her story. The hag was given the power and dominance over her husband. In the wife’s true life it was not like that. Since the Wife of Bath loved Johnny, her fifth husband, so much she gave him all of her possessions, in turn giving him the power. “I gave my whole heart up for him to hold…I handed him all the money, (she had never done this before) lands, and all that ever had been given me before; this I repented more and more. None of my pleasures would he let me seek…he smote me once upon the cheek…” Through this statement made by the wife it shows that her fifth husband had the upper hand. This is not what she desired. The Wife of Bath became jealous of her own character, the old lady hag, because she had what the wife wanted. The hag had power, beauty, and happiness. She was given the choice, while the wife had the choice taken from her. This was also where characterization came in.

The way The Wife of Bath’s Tale is written showed a similarity between the wife’s prologue and her story. The major characteristic shown was the appearance of the two ladies. Both the wife and the hag were not very attractive and were old. The wife was described in lines 395-398. “…I was forty then, to tell the truth. But still I always had a coltish tooth. Yes I’m gap tooth, it suits me well…” The hag, when describing herself, says she was old and ugly. Not to mention she was called a hag.

I think the hag was The Wife of Bath in her story. The wife wrote the story to show what she desires and what she was like in real life. She also wrote the story to show what she wanted to be transformed into.
I believe that woman today also have desires. Some do desire for power, others for love, a family, success, money, and so on. There are two things that I wanted most in my life. They were: to develop a loving and supportive family and my walk with Jesus Christ.
At the age of five, my parents divorced. It did not seem to affect me much since I was so young. However, in 4th grade it seemed I became so angry. I was slamming books and doors. There was one teacher I would always talk back to and get in trouble with. (I can still remember that class and arguing with her to this day).

I began to see a counselor and to take anti-depressants. This helped and I seemed to calm down. Since then, I have been on and off of medicine for anger, anxiety, and depression. I think the divorce of my parents had a lot to do with this.

I am not ashamed of this, but wish I didn’t have to deal with it. I think that my parents have helped me to deal with the idea that life is not perfect. I think a divorce is a hard thing for both parents and children. Yet, through this strife I had strong parents who were willing to love and support me in every way possible. They wanted the best for me so they did all they could to do that and fulfilled my desire.

I can barely remember sitting in Sunday school each week, learning about Jesus. My parents always brought me to church and encouraged that as part of my life. I was never baptized as a child though. They both never really had a religious background growing up, so I guess they never thought about it.

As I grew older, I became more involved with the church. At the age of 12, I went through confirmation and was finally baptized. I had accepted Christ into my heart. A few years after that, I began to distance myself from the church community. I began drinking in 8th grade! I would always go back and forth going to church a few weeks, then not for another few weeks. I would decide to be “good” and then would not follow what I had planned. As I entered high school, I began to attend Young Life. It was youth group type of thing. We sang, ate, and had a devotional. I made several friends and it was a great new start.

I started to attend church, but never every Sunday. I stopped drinking throughout 10th grade, but began again in 11th. I struggled with this all four years of high school and still do today.

My walk with Christ is not an easy one. I do things wrong, do not attend church regularly, and do not pray or read the Bible as much as I should. I could go on forever. But isn’t that what a Christian is? One who strives to serve Christ at his best, and struggles with it every day. All that time you know, he has already forgiven you and as long as you have faith, you will be saved. Oh what a wonderful feeling.

This desire is most important of all and of course you can see why. Because He is the maker of all and without him I would not have all the blessings I do today.
So there you go. The Wife of Bath desired what the hag already had. That was power. And also there was beauty and happiness, which the hag had obtained. I desired Christ and family. I have both, but will always have a few kinks to work out. Desire is a personal thing and each person wants something different. Even though we all want something different, the wishes can be granted and you can be relieved.