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The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale Lines 1079-1109 Summary
Some people might claim it's negligence on my part that I don't tell you about the joy and details of the wedding feast. To that, I answer that there was no joy at that feast, but heaviness and sorrow. The knight marries the hag privately the next day, and afterward hides from everyone because he is so ashamed about how ugly his wife is. The knight is greatly saddened when he gets into bed with his wife. He tosses and turns. His wife lays there smiling. She asks her husband if every husband treats his wife this way. The wife asks if it is customary in King Arthur's household for a husband to be so standoffish towards his wife. She reminds the knight that she is his love and wife, and the one who saved his life. She says that she has never done wrong by the knight. Why, then, is he treating her this way on their wedding night? The hag says her husband is acting like a crazy man. What is her guilt? She demands that her husband tell her what she has done wrong, promising to correct it if she is able. The knight replies that the hag will never be able to fix the problem, which is that his wife is so ugly, old, and low-born that it's no surprise he tosses and turns. He wishes God would break his heart within his breast.
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