This is the tale that the Wife of Bath talks about the Knight who rapes the maiden by the river and in order to keep his life he must present the answer of what women most desire in front of the court in exactly a year and a day...
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The Wife claims to represent female voices – and her tale consists of a set of women representing each other. The raped maiden is represented by the queen, who in turn is represented by the lothly lady, who in turn becomes a beautiful lady: the image which precedes her appearance is, appropriately, twenty four ladies apparently vanishing into one. The Wife speaks on behalf of women everywhere: and against the male clerks who have written the antifeminist literature that Jankin reads in his book of wikked wyves.