Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale Lines 863-887

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Lines 863-887

(A Note: In this summary, "I" refers the narrator, the Wife of Bath. Similarly, "we" refers to women in general, with the Wife of Bath including herself in the group.)

  • In the days of King Arthur, Britain was full of fairies. The elf queen danced in meadows with her companions.
  • This is what I read, anyway.
  • Now, no one sees elves any more, because of the prayers of friars.
  • These friars search all over the land, blessing every building and house, with the result that there are no more fairies.
  • Where elves used to walk, the friar himself now goes at all times of the day, saying his prayers.
  • Women can walk anywhere they want without fearing anyone but the friar, who will only dishonor (possibly: rape) them, rather than beget demon children upon them.