The star football player was about to be forced off the team because of poor academic grades. In desperation, the coach approached the Dean of the college and swore on his honor that he would give the lad a final exam in one of his subjects, and if the boy didn’t pass he would take him from the team immediately.
The night before the big game the coach met with the boy to test him.
“What,” asked the coach, “is the name of the first recorded piece of British Literature?”
“Coach,” replied the boy, “I don’t have the slightest idea.” “That’s right!” exclaimed the coach, “You don’t! Okay, you’re in the starting line-up tomorrow!”
This could be my story. I play sports-any sport-all sports-football, basketball, baseball you name it. The thought of my enjoying British Literature seems hard for even me to believe.
When faced with this assignment, I found myself in a slight panic. However, much to my surprise, it wasn’t all that bad.
In going over the choices, I knew I had to choose to write about women, and their roles in these tales. The fact that they were involved in sex, deceit, and adultery had nothing to do with my decision. And as Oscar Wilde said, “The world is packed with good and evil women. To know them is a middle class education.” I’m certainly a believer in that philosophy! After all, that’s why I’m in school.
In beginning to compare and contrast the role of women the The Wife of Bath’s Tale, by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Second Shepherd’s Play, by Wakefield Master, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by Sir Gawain, one needs to look closely at the stories.
The Wife of Bath’s , tale is a brief Arthurian romance incorporating the widespread theme of the “loathly lady.” It is the story of a woman magically transformed into an ugly shape who can be restored to her former state only be some specific action.
It also embodies some surprising traces of the courtly tradition, along with The Second Shepherd’s Play, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. All three tales seem to illustrate the transforming power of love for their men. Although they were are different they all showed the effect of their love. That the true lover cannot be corrupted by avarice; love makes an ugly and rude person shine with all beauty. They know how to endow with nobility even one of humble birth.