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HE NEDES MOSTE HIRE WEDDE: The Forced Marriage in the 'Wife of Bath's Tale' and Its Middle English Analogues

Marc Glasser
Neuphilologische Mitteilungen
Vol. 85, No. 2 (1984), pp. 239-241
Published by: Modern Language Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43343590
Page Count: 3
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
HE NEDES MOSTE HIRE WEDDE: The Forced Marriage in the 'Wife of Bath's Tale' and Its Middle English Analogues
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Abstract

In each of the three Middle English analogues of Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale (The Marriage of Sir Gawaine, The Weddynge of Sir Gawen and Dame Ragneil, and John Gower's Tale of Florent), the knight knows that marriage is what the hag demands in order to give him the answer to his question, and the knight marries the hag without complaint. Only in Chaucer's Tale is the knight unaware that the hag will eventually demand to marry him, and only in Chaucer's version does the knight subsequently complain violently when he is forced to wed her. Thus, Chaucer's Tale contains greater coercion to marry than any of the analogues. This increased coercion is appropriate for a tale told by the Wife of Bath because her Prologue shows that her marriages have been relationships in which each spouse has struggled to dominate the other.

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