|One of the most famous images for The Wife of Bath|
In our last class (March 25th), we discussed about Geoffrey Chaucer. We talked mostly about his short poems, but what got me curious was something Professor Sandra mentioned about The Wife of Bath, one of the stories from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. She said it was very interesting and funny, so I went on a little research about it.
In very brief terms, The Wife of Bath is a tale about independent women in the Middle Ages (seems that some women managed to be independent at that time!). Like all the other stories in The Canterbury Tales, is has a prologue before the tale itself. The prologue is told by a woman named Alison - the wife of Bath -, and she considers herself a very experienced woman, since she's been married five times. The whole prologue is about her telling the pilgrims about her relationship with each one of her husbands and how she felt pleased to control and torture them.
The tale starts with the condemnation of a knight from King Arthur's court accused of rape. But because his lovers intercede on his behalf, the queen decides to give him a second chance by challenging him: he has one year and a day to discover what women want more than anything else. The only way to save his life is bringing the queen a good answer; otherwise, he dies.
So the knight starts the quest, but finds no answer. One year later, when going back to meet the queen, feeling sad because he had failed, he meets a very old hag that promises to help him if she gets a reward from him at a proper time. He agrees and they go together to the court. When they arrive there, he tells the queen that what women want the most is sovereignty over their husbands. The queen accepts the answer and sets him free.
But then the old hag asks him for her reward! She demands that the knight marry her. Under his protests, they get married the next day. That night, during their honeymoon, he tells her how sad he feels because of her poverty and ugliness. The hag tells him to choose between an ugly and faithful wife or a beautiful and unfaithful one. Because he decides to leave the choice up to her, the hag becomes a beautiful and faithful woman, and then the couple lived very happy until the last day of their lives. The end!
These were the sites I researched at:
Posted by Fernanda Pedrecal