The Wife of Bath’s Response to the Clerk’s Tale

As the Clerk finished his tale, the Wife of Bath rode along in silent disgust. After a few minutes of complete silence, Harry Bailly asked, “So, what did everyone think of the tale?”

The Wife of Bath seized her chance, dominating the conversation. “What’s with the double standard?” she asked. “Men don’t have to listen to their wives and be faithful, but women have to obey their husband’s every word? How outrageous!”

The Friar spoke up in response, “Well, in the Bible, wives are expected to be submissive, and God rewards them for it.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s fair,” the Wife of Bath countered, “If I was Griselda, I would have left him. Taking my children away from me just to test my obedience? No thank you. A promise is a promise. No one should doubt promises like he did.”

“Well,” Harry Bailly interjected to try and keep the peace, “Some people aren’t very trusting by nature. You can’t change who they are.”

The company rode in silence again, giving the Wife of Bath time to think. “Women wouldn’t be so cruel though,” she said. “If we questioned someone’s fidelity or faithfulness, we would use other ways to find out.”

The Clerk responded in his own defense, “It’s just a story; it didn’t actually happen. Are we not allowed to speak of ideals here?”

The Wife of Bath snapped at him, “Well, you, sir, are delusional because your version of ideal does not exist. And it never will. No one is perfect.”

And with that, she galloped ahead of the rest of the pilgrims. She needed to be alone so that she could calm down. She didn’t understand how the others just accepted this double standard. Granted, most of them were men, but why should that matter? She couldn’t be the only one who felt this way. She just wondered if anyone else did.


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