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Seductive Powers of Women in the Medieval Era

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Seductive Powers of Women In the Medieval Era

Women of the medieval genre employed sexual prowess to manipulate and gain control of their men. This was their only means of power in an otherwise powerless role as a female. Chaucer and de France portray in their poems the female’s struggle for power and dominance in relationships and the use of sexuality to achieve that goal. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue exploits a woman’s endeavor for power over men and the wicked measures she employs. The wife, the protagonist of The Wife of Bath’s Prologue, bragged of her successful manipulation resulting in having had five husbands. This power of persuasion, also noted in The Canterbury Tales General Prologue, “Of remedies of love she knew parchaunce, For she coude of that at the olde daunce,” which exclaims the wife’s familiarity with the art of love. (477, 478) The character of the wife used powerful seduction as the main means of manipulation, but she also beguiled them into guilt in order to get what she wanted from them. Ultimately, as depicted in by the wife’s own admission, “Namely abedde hadden they meschaunce, Ther wolde I chide and do hem no plesaunce…” (403,404), it was in the bedroom where she wielded her best feats, teasing them and refusing to bring them to sexual satisfaction until they promised to give into her plea for money- a cunning way in which she made her men submissive. Chaucer depicts the wife as a feminist character who is debauching in one sense, yet she contradicts that very essence by only having sex with her husbands when she wanted money from them. Ironically, she confesses to being the fondest of, and loving only her fifth husband, whom she could not control. The fifth husband, some 20 years younger, satirically reverses roles of the wife and her previous husbands by using the same manipulative schemes on her that she previously used on other men. Husband number five dominates the wife and alludes to her that he is aware of her wicked...