During the period when Chaucer wrote the Wife of Bath, when it comes to the ways that men and women interact, what is the difference between attention and respect?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In "The Wife of Bath's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, we see in her Prologue a woman who is a lot shrewder and cleverer than she looks. The Wife Of Bath covers her intellectual arguments against church and society well when she is putting forward the case for female recognition. Among other things, she makes a distinction between men being 'good husbands' by paying attention to their wives by not hitting them and maybe offering them trifles and offering them true respect as equal partners in the journey of life and in the conduct of the marriage.

She tells of us of a physical fight she had with one of her later husbands which is unpleasant but eventually results in her parner's realisation that he must give in to her obvious ability.  They both reach a higher plane in their relationship where he actually respects her strength and wisdom as a human being and where they both now respect and care for each other. So she gets her objective, which is shared power in the relationship between men and women:
            After that day we hadde nevere debat. 
            God help me so, I was to him as kinde 
            As any wif from Denmark unto Inde, 
            And also trewe and so was he to me. 

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