Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale Lines 958-988

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Lines 958-988

  • The Wife of Bath tells the story of Midas and his wife:
  • Along with other things, Ovid said that Midas had two ass's ears growing under his hair, which he hid from sight as best as he could.
  • The only person who knew about it was his wife, whom he loved and trusted the most.
  • Midas asked her to tell no one about his disfigurement.
  • She swore that she would not betray his secret for anything.
  • Nevertheless, she felt like she was going to die if she had to hide the secret.
  • The secret grew so large insider her that she felt like she had to speak it.
  • Since she didn't dare tell it to a person, she ran to a stream with her heart on fire.
  • Like a bird warbles, she laid her mouth down next to the stream, and asked the water not to betray her with its sound.
  • She told the stream, "I tell this to you and no one else: my husband has two ass's ears. Now I feel better. I wasn't able to keep the secret any longer."
  • From this story you can see that women can't keep a secret.
  • If you want to hear how the story ends, you must read Ovid.
  • This is the end of the story of Midas and his wife.