How does the errant knight get away with rape without losing his head in the wife of bath tale?

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avetelino eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the knight is brought before the court, he is sentenced to death. However, his life is spared by Arthur's Queen and the ladies of the court. The queen says she will give him one year to answer the question she puts to him. If he answers correctly, his life will be spared. If he answers incorrectly, he will die. The queen asks him to find out what women want the most in the world. After travelling for nearly a year, the knight comes across an old hag, who promises the knight that his life will be spared if he pledges himself to her. He promises, takes her with him to court, and gives the queen the answer. All women truly want dominion over their husbands.

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