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    #1

    Question "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    Hi again,

    I'm unsure about two things again.

    In Bulfinch's book it asks, "What thing is it which women most desire?" and the reply is "...ALL WOMEN WOULD HAVE THEIR WILL, This is their chief desire." Is it possible for you to put this reply in other words? Does it mean that they want to get what they want?

    And one from Chaucer:
    "With so high reverence and observance,
    As well in speeche as in countenance,
    That Gawain, with his olde curtesie,
    Though he were come agen out of faerie,
    Ne coude him not amenden with a word."

    I cannot be sure about the last two lines, I guess Gawain must be under spell that makes him older, but what about the last line then?

    Thank you very much.

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    #2

    Re: "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    You are correct in your understanding of Bulfinch.

    "I guess Gawain must be under spell that makes him older" I wonder how you came by that assumption- is there some previous context to indicate this? The passage you cite doesn't say that.

    What this passage means is that Gawain is not only polite ("high reverence and observance") and physically attractive ("well in... countenance"), he also has what we call a 'silver tongue', meaning that he can use words very well to influence people and solve problems. "Ne coude him not amenden with a word" = 'There is nothing he cannot fix by talking'.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    Quote Originally Posted by J&K Tutoring View Post
    You are correct in your understanding of Bulfinch.

    "I guess Gawain must be under spell that makes him older" I wonder how you came by that assumption- is there some previous context to indicate this? The passage you cite doesn't say that.

    What this passage means is that Gawain is not only polite ("high reverence and observance") and physically attractive ("well in... countenance"), he also has what we call a 'silver tongue', meaning that he can use words very well to influence people and solve problems. "Ne coude him not amenden with a word" = 'There is nothing he cannot fix by talking'.
    - broadly. I have a feeling that I know this of old [='from a long time ago', rather more than 40 years in my case]. Is it from The Wife of Bath's Tale? If so, I've got more contextual background than readers of this forum have. 'Gawain' might just be a model of perfect good manners - I think the word is courtesye - not just 'courtesy' but courtly behaviour [as men. by the Courtley Love' ideal, should 'pay court' to women]. The 'ne coude hym nat amenden' is part of the metaphor. This knight was so courteous/well-spoken/smart... that even the legendary Gawain couldn't improve on him/couldn't better him.

    The 'getting younger' idea comes from the story - The Wife of Bath's Tale - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ; but it's not the knight (I don't know if Chaucer named him*); it's the 'old woman' he asks - who, as a reward for his getting the right answer, turns back into a lovely maiden. So 'how [the OP] came by that assumption' is that the idea of magical rejuvenation was in the air.

    b
    PS Gawain, one of the Round Table - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, is mentioned in the WofB Wikipedia article though. So I'll have to check...
    Last edited by BobK; 06-Sep-2011 at 11:16. Reason: Added PS

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    #4

    Arrow Re: "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    Thanks for the explanations and the comments. Those lines are from Squiere's Tale of Chaucer. Both comments are fine about Arthur's knight Sir Gawain, but can you also explain the line "Though he were come agen out of faerie" as I have to understand it correctly to be able to translate?

    The story about the woman turning into a beautiful lady is correct. She is the one that replies as "ALL WOMEN WOULD HAVE THEIR WILL" to the question of King Arthur and gets married to a brave knight as a reward.

    Thanks for all your efforts.

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    #5

    Re: "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    I don't know the story of the end of Gawain, but it sounds as if "Though he were come agen out of faerie" might mean 'If he were to return ("come agen") out of his enchanted state' - maybe he didn't die, but was spirited away by some enchantment.

    Sorry - no time for more. (Bit of a rush...)

    b

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    #6

    Re: "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    BobK-
    I'm sure your explanation is spot on- thanks!

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    #7

    Re: "What thing is it which women most desire?"

    Tolkien loved this story and wrote his own rendition -- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, if memory serves.

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