Open main menu

The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale

book by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Wife of Bath's Tale in the Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales, c. 1405–1410.

"The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" is a story from the well known book The Canterbury Tales. It is about a knight who sets on a quest to find the object that women most desire. The story has been changed into many plays.

The story begins when a man rapes a young lady. He is sentenced to death by the King, but the Queen asks for mercy. She gives the knight a year and a day to find out what women really want. The man hunts the entire year, and gets many different answers, from the different women he asks.

After a year passed he was on his way to back the castle to tell the queen his answer when he saw many young women. They disappeared and left one old lady. The old lady gives him the answer but in return wants to marry him. The man is forced to marry the old woman after she gives him the correct answer, which was mastery (sovereignty) from their husbands/men. On their honeymoon he hides from her and she gives him the choice of her old ugly self, who would never cheat on him or a pretty woman who might cheat on him. He gives her the power to make the decision on her own, and in return she turns herself into a pretty and faithful young woman he had truly wanted.