Chaucer: The Clerk’s Tale

Once there was a marquis, who lived in Italy. His name was Walter, and all the people loved him. They only wanted one thing of him, and that was that he should get himself a wife. He decided to go to one of the poorest men in town’s house. He asks to marry his daughter. The man replies that he couldn’t refuse if he wanted, but consents. They are married the next day. Now the woman that he married, Griselda, is very submissive and kind, knowing that she doesn’t deserve to live in the palace, and sees the whole thing as a privilege.


Walter decided to test his wife, to see how devoted she really is to him. When she has a daughter, he tells her he will have it killed. She submits, and gives him the baby. He tells one of his generals to take it to his sister and hide it there. Griselda is sad, but nonetheless, she submits to her husband and keeps her peace. 5 years later, she has a boy, and Walter does the same thing, telling her that he is going to kill the boy, and tells his general to take the boy to his sister.

His wife, again submitting to her husband, gives up her child. He decides to put his wife to one more test. He tells her he is re-marrying, and that she must prepare for his wedding. He brings his daughter and son, and says that he’s marrying his daughter. Right before it happens, he’s on the stage, and tells her that the whole thing was a trick, and that these are her children. She cries tears of joy, hugging and kissing her children, shortly before fainting. And that’s the end of the story. His daughter marries a rich prince, and his son becomes his successor

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