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Essay on True Punishment in The Wife of Bath´s Tale by Chaucer

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In most cases today rape gets you sentenced to prison and sometimes death. Back in Chaucer’s day, in the text The Wife of Bath’s Tale, Chaucer wrote about a knight in the text The Wife of Bath’s Tale. This knight was arrested for his deed of raping a woman. His punishment is not as suffice as it would be in the modern world. The life of the knight was spared because of his beauty that the Queen had seen. Instead, the Queen insisted that the knight go on a trip; a trip that would last a year and a day. When the knight’s time was up, he would return to the Queen and explain what she had asked him before he left on his journey. The question that was asked was, “’yet you shall live if you can answer me: what is the thing that women most desire?’” says the queen ([Prentice Hall Literature] page 140 lines 50-51).As for the knight, what final choice does the old woman offer the knight? In what way does his response show that he has finally learned his lesson about the nature of women? And finally, Has the knight experienced sufficient punishment and redemption for his crime.
First, the knight is giving two choices by the old woman; either he can pick her or someone else. The old woman’s actual words were “’You have two choices: which one will you try? To have me old and ugly till I die, but still a loyal, true and humble wife or would you rather I were young and pretty and chance your arm what happens in a city where friends will visit you because of me, yes, and in other places too, maybe. Which would you have? The choice is all your own.’” ([Prentice Hall Literature] page 149 lines 365-373). For the knight, this is a simple answer which he throws the question back at the old women, saying that you pick for me. Giving her the power to c...


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... beloved wife has made the decision for him. After going through this incredible journey of his, not only did he study women but he had to explain what women most desired to the queen. Otherwise he would have been beheaded, but was spared because of his looks. Was this justice? Indeed it would have been justice back in the 1300’s because if you were beautiful you could be spared and do a noble deed for the king/queen as they asked. If you did not complete it who knows what could have happened. But for the knight, he completed what he was told to do and in fact after he raped the woman and he was being prosecuted, the journey of his made him find the true knight inside of him. The old woman choice that was offer to the knight demonstrated that he learned his lesson through his sufficient punishment and redemption for his crime.



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