An Analysis of the Moral of Two Tales from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales: The Pardoner’s Tale and The Wife of Bath
The Pardoner’s Tale’s Lesson
The moral of this tale is that “greed is the root of all evil” as shown with the three rioters. They demand to know where they can find Death, a mysterious figure who killed one of their friends. An old man directed them to a tree, where they should find Death. However, once they arrived, they were greeted not by Death, but by gold coins. They become excited, but one says that if they were to carry the gold into town during the day, they would be mistaken for thieves; so they decide to wait for the cover of night, but in the meantime, the youngest one went to get bread and wine to eat. While he was away, the other two show their greed by plotting to kill the young lad when he returned with the food, so that their share of wealth was greater. Meanwhile, while the lad was on his way to buy the food, he has a similar thought. His greed shows when he poisons two of the wine bottles intending to kill the other two so that he has all the gold for himself. When he returns, the other two ambush him, killing him. To celebrate their victory and wealth, they grab a wine each and drink them, unknowing that they were poisoned. After a while, they both lay dead. In the end, their greed is what killed them, before the gold they were great friends, after it they were just a percentage of the gold that they wouldn’t have. This tale made an example of greed being one of the deadly sins. It should be noted, with much humor and irony, that they did find Death, just not the one that they were expecting.
The Wife of Bath’s Tale’s Lesson
The moral of this tale is that “women want to be in charge of their men,” as shown by the old hag in the tale. After almost a year of searching for the answer of what women want the most, the knight has given up and accepted his fate. He meets the old hag who tells him the answer in exchange for a favor. Once he realizes that he has no other choice he accepts. This puts the old hag with the upper hand, she’s the one in charge. Once he has disclosed the answer to rid himself of his sentence, the old hag tells him her favor. She wanted to marry him. At first, he was reluctant, she was an old hag after all, but she reminded him of the promise, the upper hand, and so he kept it. She also falls into the “women who want to be in charge of their men” category, so when she asked him how he wanted her to look, old and ugly but faithful or young and beautiful but people would look at her and woo her and such, she wanted only one answer. I guess you could say it was kind of a trick question, since it was neither of the two options. The knight said that she could be whatever she desired, giving her the option to choose and be happy with what she chose. She chose to be beautiful and faithful, the best of both worlds. Obviously, the knight was delighted with this decision, but the old hag, now a beautiful woman, was even happier since she was able to decide from herself, and have any input from the knight.
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