Wife of Bath's Tale

Character Sketch


From her tale and monologue, we can tell that she is....

  • Very seductive and manipulative
  • Always tries to get what she wants by using her body
  • A very promiscuous woman by being a prostitute and being married five times
  • Alters the meaning of the Scripture to suit her behavior

The Tale's Plot

In the time of King Arthur and land of fairies and elves, a lusty knight raped a young maiden he sees walking by a river. The court believed that the knight should be decapitated but he is given a second chance by Queen Guinevere. However, if he does not find out the answer to what women desire most within a year, he will be beheaded.

After a year of searching for the answer, he is left empty handed because he cannot find two woman who agree on what women want the most. One day, as he is filled with much sorrow, he sees a ring of fairies dancing. These fairies quickly turn into and ugly old hag.  

This ugly old hag says that she'll tell the knight a woman's desire if he promises to do whatever she wants in return. He agrees and she tells him that woman wish to have power over their husband or lover.

The knight no longer has to be decapitated but he must do whatever the hag asks. She wishes that they get married and he has no choice but to agree. On their wedding night, he does not want to get "saucy" because he claims that she is too ugly, old, and low class.

She offers him a choice: Would he rather have an old, ugly woman who is good and faithful to him or a young and beautiful woman who has no good qualities. He cannot choose so he makes his wife decide. Because he gave up his power over hers, she rewards him by making herself a young and beautiful wife who is also faithful and good. And the knight and the maiden live happily ever after.


With the Wife of Bath-

  • Not lady-like
  • Independent

With the Knight-

  • Rapes maiden
  • Doesn't practice chivalry

With the Answer to the Question-

  • Doesn't follow with medieval teachings
  • Men supposed to be superior

In today's society...