Change is inevitable, even for the accused, but the amount of change within a person is measured by time, social status, and power. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Wyfe of Bath’s Tale”, a young knight is introduced to the readers in the midst of a moral and social dilemma. The young knight is accused of rape, and other than imprisonment, he must find out what women truly want. Violent crimes, such as rape affects the victim and the perpetrator. The way Chaucer develops the young knight as a character is consistent with Chaucer’s own criminal past. It appears that within “The Wyfe of Bath’s
Tale” the young knight is incapable of changing his “lusty liver” ways.
The cost of rape for the victim requires seeking medical attention, compromised social adjustment, psychotherapy, poor self image, despair, helplessness, and so on. What does it cost the perpetuator? Many do not inquire due to the assumption that the perpetrator is a heartless, insensitive social deviant only concerned about his/her own need for power and control. While this assumption can be argued as a true fact, there is one area of concern to be examined. Those that are found guilty of rape also pay a cost: jail time, jeopardized social reputation, and a tormented unconscious. Geoffrey
Chaucer’s “The Wyfe of Bath’s Tale” is a great illustration of how those who rape pay for their transgressions.The young knight rapes; is sentenced; he thinks he found a way to avoid the consequences of his behavior; yet, in the end, he spends an eternity battling what is right and wrong, and he is never fully redeemed.
“The Wyfe of Bath’s Tale” is argumentatively the depiction of Chaucer’s very own criminal history. Geoffrey Chaucer was accused of rape in 1380, and paid a half a years worth of pay as a fine.
In his story, the young knight accused of rape completes a year and a day sentence which is more like a sabbatical. He goes off to find the what all women want the most and is frustrated by not getting the same answer twice. Both Chaucer and his character are released from their true consequence by a woman. Chaucer should have served some time and the knight should have kept his ugly old hag.
Chaucer’s alleged victim, a woman named Cecily Chaumpaigne forced Chaucer to pay 10 pounds (a huge amount of money back then) to drop the charges. Similarly, the young knight is forced to spend the rest of his life with an old hag who eventually turns herself into a beautiful maiden which cost the young knight a lesson learned. The knight was rewarded with a happy ending just like Chaucer: married rapists who hardly paid the price for their transgressions.
Moreover, Chaucer is also successful with portraying the young knight’s vices as a consequence of his “lusty liver” ways. It appears that the young knight is insatiable, and his sexual appetite cost him his nobility. A knight, by nature, is one who is honored and revered, this allows him to obtain things that he ordinarily would not receive if he was a commoner. Thus, the reader is invited to think about how the…