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Morality in The Canterbury Tales Essay


The Canterbury Tales

The Wife of Baths clearly describes the moral lesson beauty lies within and all men should obey their ugly or beautiful, young or old wife. In the time of King Arthur a hansom and lustful knight rapes a woman and is sentenced to death by the king. But the queen had another punishment for the knight. Instead of having his head chopped off and learning nothing from his crime she sends him on a journey to find the one true desire of a woman.

During his journey some women desire, riches, a man that would be promising between the sheets, a gorgeous man, flattery, and even a man that would provide security. None of the answers he received felt like it was the true answer to the queens question. Broken hearted the knight returns back to the kingdom to face his death, through the forest he comes across woman dancing happily. As soon as he approaches, hopeful that one of the woman will have the answer to the question that will save his life. The women disappear, except one, an aged, foul looking hag. The hag promises that she has the key to the unopened door and she is willing to give the knight the key but in return he must keep his promise and fulfill her wish. The knight and the hag return to the kingdom and tell her queen every womans true desire is to have sovereignty and for their husbands to submit to them. The knight kept his life but also had to keep his promise to the hag. She desired that the knight would marry her. Wishing he were getting his head chopped off instead of making love to a disfigured woman he kept his promise.

The hag noticed the knight was unhappy because he was consumed with having a young bride inside of an aged bride. The hag made him choose between having a disfigured and old wife who would be faithful and committed to him or a young beautiful wife who would go behind his back and have affairs with many men. The knight gave the decision to his wife because he wanted to show her that he has learned to show her what a woman desires. Then the wrinkled hideous hag turned into a fair young woman and he was pleased with her transformation and they lived happily forever.

The moral lesson Chaucer is portraying is beauty lies within and the wife of baths moral lesson is no matter young or old, fair or ugly a woman should be respected and obeyed by their husbands. The knight learns Chaucers moral lesson in the end when his hag of a wife turns into a beautiful youthful woman.

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