Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale Lines 1213-1241

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Lines 1213-1241

  • (The hag continues her response to her husband's complaint:)
  • You reprove me for being old.
  • Although I've never read authorities on this subject, you gentlemen say that one should be respectful of an elderly man, and call him father.
  • I'm sure I could find authorities who write about this.
  • You say that I am ugly and old; well, then you don't need to worry about me cheating on you.
  • Ugliness and age are great guards of chastity.
  • However, since I know what it is you really want, I will fulfill your worldly desire.
  • I give you a choice between these two things: to have me ugly and old until I die, but a faithful and obedient wife to you, or to have me young and beautiful, but with no guarantee of other good qualities.
  • Choose.
  • (This is the end of the hag's speech.)
  • The knight thinks hard about the choice he's been given.
  • At last, he tells his wife that he puts himself at her disposal. He asks her to choose herself whichever option is most pleasing to her and will bring the most honor to them both.
  • He claims not to care which option she chooses, because whatever she prefers is good enough for him.