Where in the Prologue to "The Wife of Bath's Tale" does she say that she would rather have respect when referring to her fifth husband?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The dispute that the Wife has with her fifth husband, the rather comely scholar, Jankin, whom she spotted at her fourth husband's funeral resulted in her gaining mastery of him in their marriage, which is of course the message of her tale, as the knight chooses to give his wife the power to make his decision for him, and by so doing gains both a faithful and a beautiful wife. The Wife clearly says that she wants respect in the conclusion of her Prologue, when she describes how she was struck by Jankin for ripping a page out of his book and striking him. Note what she says after she was punched in the head and then made Jankin feel incredibly guilty for what he did:

And when I'd got myself the upper hand

And in this way obtained complete command,

And he had said, "My own true faithful wife,

Do as you please from now on, all your life:

Guard your honour and look after my esate."

--From that day on we had no more debate.

Clearly, the Wife wanted to have, and won, the respect of Jankin, her fifth husband, even though she had to go through a big fight in order to get that respect and mastery. It is clear however that she pretended she was hurt more than she actually was in order to make Jankin feel as guilty as possible so that she could use that to gain control over him and make sure she was treated with respect. The way that Jankin read from his book about bad wives and how wives should act night after night in order to try and educate her was something that she clearly did not feel constituted being treated with respect. In this section of the Prologue, the Wife again strikes the reader as a woman who is determined to be in control and will ensure that she is in charge. The way she gains the respect of her husband and changes him to ensure that he accepts her control over him is a clear demonstration of her power and determination as a woman, which is particularly unique given the patriarchal power at the time of Chaucer.

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