What is the theme in the Man of Law's Tale in The Canterbury Tales?

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"The Man of Law's Tale" is intended to be a morally uplifting story designed to illustrate the value of true Christian virtue. Throughout her various troubles, Constance acts as a good Christian was expected to do at the time, remaining faithful to her religion and placing complete trust in God....

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"The Man of Law's Tale" is intended to be a morally uplifting story designed to illustrate the value of true Christian virtue. Throughout her various troubles, Constance acts as a good Christian was expected to do at the time, remaining faithful to her religion and placing complete trust in God. Constance's very name is an indication of her attitude towards her faith. However strongly that faith is tested by the various pagans and infidels she encounters on her travels, she still maintains an unbreakable commitment to what the Man of Law, Chaucer, and his audience, would all have regarded as the one true religion.

In some ways, the character of Constance is an allegory for Christendom, which at that time was under constant threat from Muslim invaders. Just as Constance is threatened with rape and seduction by pagans and infidels, so too is the integrity of the Church potentially threatened by non-Christians. The Man of Law is enjoining the Church to follow the example of Constance: to stay strong and trust in God.

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The theme of this tale is that God will protect those who are notably virtuous and will punish people who try to abuse the good.  This can clearly be seen in the events that occur in Constance's life.

Constance is a complete paragon of virtue.  She is a completely good person and everyone who meets her comes to love her unless they are bad people themselves.  Because of these traits, God continually protects her when the bad people try to bring about her death.

A secondary theme in the tale is jealousy.  The bad people who meet Constance are overwhelmed with jealousy because of her goodness.

These are very Christian themes -- Constance suffers for her goodness but God saves her when this happens.

 

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