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The Wife of Bath's Tale Theme Analysis

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by

Tori Catalo

on 7 December 2014

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Transcript of The Wife of Bath's Tale Theme Analysis

The Wife of Bath's Tale Theme Analysis
Characters
Conflicts

The conflict in this story has to do with the wrongdoings of the knight and his internal conflicts. He was given a second chance at life if he was able to answer the question "What is the thing that women most desire?" He searches the town for an answer but is only able to find it in the old woman. He is given his second chance for having a correct answer, but promised the old woman anything in exchange. She wanted to marry the knight and he reluctantly agreed. It is then that he yells at the woman for all the attributes he (and society) find wrong with her only to have her respond with all of the positive points for each negative point he had. It is then, that his internal conflicts are finally resolved.
Overall Theme
Overview
First reading the tale, I was not sure what to think of the characters or the strange circumstances. It was not until there was a bargain made that the theme started coming into play. And although the characters are important to the theme, so is the conflict that arose.
Society Conflict
I think that the picture of the "We Can Do It" relates in the sense that she is fighting not only for rights as a woman, but for rights as any other human being. To show that social class is not only relevant today, but back when the divisions were really prominent.
Knight's Conflict
The conflict for the night was when he decided to keep his noble promise and marry the old woman, and when he decided to love her even though she was not the same class as he. He was able to overcome those conflict and realize that it is more about the gentility of a person, not their wealth. "truly poor are they who whine and fret And covet what they cannot hope to get."
This picture shows the disgust on the knight's face and how much the social standards control his emotions and decisions. Although the old woman is not actually old, it shows the true emotion when asked to be married by someone society considers undesirable. "Alas that any of my race and station Should ever make so foul a misalliance!"
The characters in this story are very important to the theme since the Knight and Old woman dictate the circumstances.

The old woman seems fragile and is regarded as a lower class back in that day. She knows the answer to what every female wants (including herself). She gives the knight the answer in exchange for marriage. She allows the knight to realize that money and class are not everything.
The knight starts out as a character who seems to be doomed for failure, but is given a second chance to realize values about himself. He looks for the answer of what every female wants. He learns that it is not beauty, wealth, or age that determine the gentility of a person.
This picture depicts the scene where the knight is debating whether or not to love his wife. I feel that this picture is able to show the emotion on their faces well. The knight is looking down wondering what to do while the woman is sitting on the bed, trying to get the knight to understand what she already knows. "To have me old and ugly till I die, But still a loyal, true and humble wife That never will displease you all her life, Or would you rather I were young and pretty And chance your arm what happens in a city"
I found that the overall theme of this story was not only the social aspect of loving someone for their mind instead of body, but that of knowing what you believe in compared to what society wants you to believe in.
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