Wife of Bath

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  • In th' olde dayes of Kyng Arthour
  • Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.
  • But now kan no man se none elves mo, For now the grete charitee and prayeres Of lymytours and othere hooly freres
  • And so bifel that this kyng Arthour Hadde in his hous a lusty bacheler
  • He saugh a mayde walkynge hym biforn, Of which mayde anon, maugree hir heed, By verray force, he rafte hire maydenhed
  • The Wife of Bath begins that in the days of King Arthur, Britain was filled with fairies and elves.
  • Under a forest syde, Where as he saugh upon a daunce go
  • However now elves are unseen; wherever there was once an elf there are now beggars and friars. Just like the incubi had raped the fairies; the friars rape the women causing dishonour.
  • Outcry following the raping of a beautiful maiden by a knight decrees that the knight should be put to death. The Queen presents the challenge that if the knight can discover what women want most in the world within one year, he can keep his life.
  • A fouler wight ther may no man devyse
  • Nearly every woman that the knight asked, answered differently. Some said riches, others honour, happiness, clothes, lust in bed, to be free, to be considered wise and flattery.
  • What thyng is it that wommen moost desiren
  • The knight's day of judgement drew nearer; he sorrowfully headed home. As he rides near a forest he sees 24 women dancing and decides to ask them his question.
  • But as he approached, the women vanished and in their place was an ugly, old woman who asked the knight of his predicament. The woman promises she can save his life if he pledges himself to her.
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