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Morals of Beowulf, Le Morte D’arthur, The Wife of Bath and The Pardoner’s Tale

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Words: 564 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Apr 21, 2022

Words: 564|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Apr 21, 2022

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Table of contents

  1. Beowulf: The Triumph of Good Over Evil
  2. Le Morte D’Arthur: The Betrayal of Trust
  3. The Wife of Bath: Women's Desire for Autonomy
  4. The Pardoner’s Tale: Greed as the Root of Evil
  5. Conclusion

The profound exploration of moral lessons within literary works offers readers a gateway to understanding the complex human condition and the values held dear by different societies across centuries. In the following essay, we will embark on a journey through four timeless tales, each penned by distinguished authors: Beowulf, authored by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet; Le Morte D’Arthur, written by Thomas Malory; The Wife of Bath, and The Pardoner’s Tale, both penned by Geoffrey Chaucer. While these stories span different cultures and epochs, they share the common thread of conveying valuable moral lessons that continue to resonate with contemporary readers.

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Beowulf: The Triumph of Good Over Evil

In the epic saga of Beowulf, the moral lesson centers around the triumph of good over evil. Set in Geatland, the story revolves around a young hero named Beowulf who answers the call of King Hrothgar of the Danes to vanquish a monstrous ogre named Grendel terrorizing his people. Beowulf's quest is not merely driven by valor and glory; it is also rooted in a sense of duty and honor. He embarks on this perilous journey to repay Hrothgar's past kindness to his father and to protect the innocent from harm.

Beowulf's confrontation with Grendel is emblematic of the eternal struggle between righteousness and malevolence. Through his unwavering courage, Beowulf emerges victorious, ultimately illustrating the triumph of good over evil. His selflessness and valor serve as an enduring reminder that noble deeds and moral rectitude can overcome even the most formidable adversaries. Beowulf's victory not only restores peace to the Danes but also secures his own place in legend and myth, thus reinforcing the moral lesson of the epic.

Le Morte D’Arthur: The Betrayal of Trust

In the Arthurian legend as recounted in Le Morte D’Arthur, a different facet of human nature is explored: the betrayal of trust. The central narrative revolves around the bond of loyalty and trust between King Arthur and his greatest knight, Lancelot. King Arthur, the embodiment of chivalry, fought countless battles for the sake of his queen, Guinevere. He believed in the virtue of loyalty, and his trust in Lancelot ran deep.

However, as the story unfolds, we witness the tragic erosion of this trust. Lancelot's affair with Guinevere shatters the once-unbreakable bond between knight and king, exemplifying the fragility of trust in the face of temptation and desire. Despite Merlin's sage warnings and guidance, the seeds of betrayal had already taken root. This betrayal ultimately leads to the unraveling of Arthur's kingdom and the tragic downfall of the once-mighty Camelot.

Le Morte D’Arthur serves as a stark reminder that trust, once betrayed, can have far-reaching consequences. It emphasizes the importance of integrity, fidelity, and the perils of succumbing to one's baser instincts, making it a cautionary tale for all.

The Wife of Bath: Women's Desire for Autonomy

In Chaucer's The Wife of Bath, the narrative shifts its focus to the desires of women for autonomy and control within their relationships. The tale tells of a knight who commits a heinous act by raping a young maiden. To atone for his crime, he embarks on a quest to discover what women desire most. His journey leads him to an encounter with an old woman who imparts the wisdom that women desire sovereignty over their husbands.

This revelation challenges traditional gender roles and expectations prevalent in medieval society. The old woman's transformation from aged and unattractive to youthful and virtuous underscores the idea that women should not be judged solely by their appearances but by their character and agency. The Wife of Bath's tale advocates for women's right to assert their independence and assert control over their own lives and relationships.

The Pardoner’s Tale: Greed as the Root of Evil

In The Pardoner’s Tale, Chaucer explores the theme of greed as the root of all evil. The narrative follows three rioters on a quest to find Death, who had claimed the life of their friend. Along their journey, they encounter an old man who wishes for Death to take him. When they inquire about Death's whereabouts, the old man directs them to an oak tree, where they discover not Death but a hoard of gold coins.

Greed quickly consumes the trio, leading them to plot the murder of their companion and ultimately sealing their own doom. They fall victim to their insatiable desire for wealth, and their avarice leads to their tragic demise.

The Pardoner’s Tale serves as a stark warning about the destructive power of greed. It underscores the age-old adage that "the love of money is the root of all evil." Chaucer's tale highlights the corrupting influence of materialism and the moral decay that accompanies the relentless pursuit of riches.

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Conclusion

Overall, these four literary works—Beowulf, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Wife of Bath, and The Pardoner’s Tale—offer profound insights into the moral fabric of human existence. Through the triumph of good over evil, the betrayal of trust, women's desire for autonomy, and the perils of greed, these stories continue to resonate with readers, transcending time and culture. By exploring the intricacies of these tales and delving into their moral lessons, we gain a deeper understanding of the timeless truths that shape our lives and society. These narratives serve as both mirrors reflecting our own humanity and guiding lights illuminating the path towards virtue and wisdom.

References:

  1. Beowulf. Trans Seamus Heaney. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Gen. ed. Martin Puchner. 9th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 2014. 1235-1304. Print
  2. Le Morte D’Arthur. Trans Sir Thomas Malory. Le Morte DArthur. Norton Critical ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd. New York: Norton, 2004. 3-698. Print
  3. The Wife of Bath. Trans Sheila Fisher. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Gen. ed. Martin Puchner. 9th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 2014. 1235-1304. Print
  4. The Pardoner’s Tale. Trans Sheila Fisher. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Gen. ed. Martin Puchner. 9th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 2014. 1235-1304. Print
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Morals of Beowulf, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Wife of Bath and The Pardoner’s Tale. (2022, April 21). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/morals-of-beowulf-le-morte-darthur-the-wife-of-bath-and-the-pardoners-tale/
“Morals of Beowulf, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Wife of Bath and The Pardoner’s Tale.” GradesFixer, 21 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/morals-of-beowulf-le-morte-darthur-the-wife-of-bath-and-the-pardoners-tale/
Morals of Beowulf, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Wife of Bath and The Pardoner’s Tale. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/morals-of-beowulf-le-morte-darthur-the-wife-of-bath-and-the-pardoners-tale/> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
Morals of Beowulf, Le Morte D’Arthur, The Wife of Bath and The Pardoner’s Tale [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 21 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/morals-of-beowulf-le-morte-darthur-the-wife-of-bath-and-the-pardoners-tale/
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