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Free Canterbury Tales Essays: The Knight and the Wife of Bath

The Character of the Knight of the Wife of Bath

The knight from the “Wife of Bath’s Tale” is not a very likable personality. His actions suggest he is just an abstract character, a receiver of the actions, who is used to give the tale’s plot a meaning. Neither he nor other characters in the story are even mentioned by name. However, the traits of his character are very real and do exist in the real world. Brought together, they create an un-exciting personality of a man without a purpose in life.

The knight is not very smart; he does not think about the consequences of his actions. Raping the girl is one example. In this act, he is guided only by his desires, without considering how right they are. But he doesn’t think about the punishment either. The knight lives only for the present moment.

Another example is the rash promise that he gives to the old hag. He agrees to do anything she wants in return for hearing the answer he is looking for. True, if he doesn’t get an answer, he will lose his life. However, he doesn’t think about the possibility that what the hag will want may turn out to be even worse, considering the fact that honor and personal integrity were valued more than life in those times. A thoughtful person, such as Sir Gawain from Morte Darthur, would have inquired more about the woman’s wish, before making such an agreement.

The knight is also an ungrateful person. The hag saves him from a certain death and then requests that he marry her. In light of the events, the knight should be grateful to escape death, but instead he views the marriage to his savior as another form of the same punishment. He agrees only because he is bound by the promise, and the chivalric code forces him to keep it.

In addition, the knight’s thoughts are easily influenced by other people. Apparently, he recognizes the fact that he is often wrong and listens to the opinions of others. But he adopts those opinions without thinking them through for himself. This happens when the old hag says she knows what women most want; the knight doesn’t question that knowledge. However, by the time he meets the hag, he has listened to many other women who weren’t very consistent in their suggestions.

The Sacerdotal Symbol of Courage in The Scarlet Letter

Dimmesdale contained seven years of shame and guilt deep inside his heart. The townspeople had seen Dimmesdale’s constitution feeble noticeably. They ironically believed it was because they were unworthy of his aura of goodness. With the benevolence of his office acting as holy protection, nobody suspected him of the sinful act of adultery. Suffering from self-inflicted ignominy and physical torture, Dimmesdale struggled to redeem himself in some fashion. Near the very end of the novel, Dimmesdale delivered a poignant confession to the townspeople. Afterwards his strength expired and he died. Dimmesdale’s behaviors suggested that his only reason for living so long was to deliver that final confession to the townspeople, therefor making peace with God. Dimmesdale was courageous at the very end because of his religious piety; the seven years had taken a heavy toll upon him and all he wanted was to lift the burden from his soul and receive salvation from his Lord.

Immediately after Dimmesdale had conferred with Hester, a great change overtook him. He was still physically weak, but mentally he had taken a quantum leap in understanding. His sudden insight was “so great a vicissitude in his life could not at once be received as real”(146). Dimmesdale was happy, he had a reason to live, a chance to be with Hester. He does not yet know of Chillingworth’s identity. Hester’s decision not to tell Dimmesdale was injurious retrospectively because the pain of betrayal that would befell upon Dimmesdale later would be much more immense than if she had told him from the beginning. Yet because Hester decided not to reveal the secret, Dimmesdale’s was left with a sense of security, however false it may be in reality. It is because of Hester’s s…

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… does, because of his raw courage and piety. Before he passed away, his self-inflicted badge of shame or rather courage, was just as much amplified as Hester’s object of obloquy was reduced. It is also interesting to note that if Dimmesdale had confessed seven years ago, he would have been punished severely. But because in that epoch of time Dimmesdale has gained such a benevolent reputation, and the Scarlet Letter’s purpose faded, the high ranking officials of the city actually eulogized his behavior. It is likely that Dimmesdale’s passionate speech, his death, or a combination of the two may have obfuscated their reasoning, or the officials may just wish to deny everything to protect the sanctity of the Church. No matter what other people think, Dimmesdale acted courageously and has redeemed himself with his ‘triumphant ignominy”.

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