King Arthur issues a decree that the knight must be brought to justice. When the knight is captured, he is condemned to death, but Queen Guinevere intercedes on his behalf and asks the King to allow her to pass judgment upon him.
Synopsis[ edit ] There was a knight in King Arthur 's time who raped a fair young maiden. King Arthur issues a decree that the knight must be brought to justice.
When the knight is captured, he is condemned to death, but Queen Guinevere intercedes on his behalf and asks the King to allow her to pass judgment upon him.
The Queen tells the knight that he will be spared his life if he can discover for her what it is that women most desire, and allots him a year and a day in which to roam wherever he pleases and return with an answer.
Everywhere the knight goes he explains his predicament to the women he meets and asks their opinion, but "No two of those he questioned answered the same.
When at last the time comes for him to return to the Court, he still lacks the answer he so desperately needs. Outside a castle in the woods, he sees twenty-four maidens dancing and singing, but when he approaches they disappear as if by magic, and all that is left is an old woman.
The Knight explains the problem to the old woman, who is wise and may know the answer, and she forces him to promise to grant any favour she might ask of him in return.
With no other options left, the Knight agrees. Arriving at the court, he gives the answer that women most desire sovereignty over their husbands, which is unanimously agreed to be true by the women of the court who, accordingly, free the Knight.
The old woman then explains to the court the deal she has struck with the Knight, and publicly requests his hand in marriage. Although aghast, he realises he has no other choice and eventually agrees.
On their wedding night the old woman is upset that he is repulsed by her in bed. She reminds him that her looks can be an asset—she will be a virtuous wife to him because no other men would desire her. She asks him what he would prefer—an old ugly wife who is loyal, true and humble or a beautiful young woman about whom he would always have doubts concerning her faithfulness.
The Knight responds by saying that the choice is hers, an answer which pleases her greatly. Now that she has won power over him, she asks him to kiss her, promising both beauty and fidelity. The Knight turns to look at the old woman again, but now finds a young and lovely woman.
They live happily into old age together. In the beginning the wife expresses her views in which she believes the morals of women is not merely that they all solely desire "sovereignty", but that each individual woman should have the opportunity to make the decision.
Well I know Abraham was a holy man, and Jacob as well, as far as I know, and each of them had more than two wives. And many other holy men did as well. When have you seen that in any time great God forbade marriage explicitly?
Tell me, I Pray you. The tale confronts the double standard and the social belief in the inherent inferiority of women, and attempts to establish a defence of secular women's sovereignty that opposes the conventions available to her.
Feminist critique[ edit ] The Wife of Bath's Prologue simultaneously enumerates and critiques the long tradition of misogyny in ancient and medieval literature. As Cooper notes, the Wife of Bath's "materials are part of the vast medieval stock of antifeminism ",  giving St.
Jerome 's Adversus Jovinianumwhich was "written to refute the proposition put forward by one Jovinianus that virginity and marriage were of equal worth", as one of many examples.
Further evidence of this can be found through her observation:The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale An Interlinear Translation. The Middle English text is from Larry D. Benson., Gen. ed., The Riverside Chaucer, Houghton Miflin .
Activity 4. The Wife of Bath's Prologue; Activity 5. The Wife of Bath's Tale; Activity 1. Meet the Pilgrims. If your students are encountering The Canterbury Tales for the first time, explain to them the framing narrative of the poem (see links in Background section, above).
Students may find it easier to understand the framing narrative of the poem . A summary of The Wife of Bath’s Prologue (continued) in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Canterbury Tales and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.
Summary. Before the Wife begins her tale, she shares information about her life and her experiences in a prologue. The Wife of Bath begins her lengthy prologue by announcing that she has always followed the rule of experience rather than authority.
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Read "The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" with interlinear translation; Modern Translation of the Wife of Bath's Tale and Other Resources at eChaucer "The Wife of Bath's Tale" – a plain-English retelling for non-scholars.