The Canterbury Tales

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The old woman Character Analysis

The ugly but wise old woman in the Tale is a common character in legends: the loathly lady, or the woman who seems to be an unimportant old woman but actually contains magical powers. The old woman helps the knight on the condition that he promises to do whatever she wants.

The old woman Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

The The Canterbury Tales quotes below are all either spoken by The old woman or refer to The old woman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Satire Theme Icon
).
The Wife of Bath’s Tale Quotes

For gentilesse nys but renomee
Of thyne auncestres, for hire heigh bountee,
Which is a strange thing to thy persone.
Thy gentilesse cometh fro God alone.
Thanne comth our verray gentilesse of grace;
It was no thing biquethe us with our place.

Related Characters: The old woman (speaker), The knight
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The old woman Character Timeline in The Canterbury Tales

The timeline below shows where the character The old woman appears in The Canterbury Tales. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Wife of Bath’s Tale
Courtly Love and Sexual Desire Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...them his question. But before he can come close, the dancers vanish, and only an ugly old woman remains. She asks him what his question is, and he promises to reward her if... (full context)
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The knight and the old woman go to court, where a large audience of the queen and her maids is assembled,... (full context)
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At that moment, the old woman comes forward and demands that the knight marry her. The knight recoils in horror, begging... (full context)
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While they are in bed, the old woman asks the knight why he is so despondent, and the knight replies that he is... (full context)
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The old woman gives the knight a choice. She can remain ugly but faithful and virtuous; or she... (full context)
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Since the knight gives her the authority to choose for herself, the old woman says that she will be both beautiful and true. She tells him to kiss her,... (full context)