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The Wife of Bath's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Why does the Wife of Bath say there are no more elves and fairies in England?

Quick answer:

The Wife of Bath says that there are no more elves and fairies in England because the land is now filled with priests and friars. These "holy" men have purged the world of magic from existence as they have prayed blessings over every imaginable space.

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The Wife of Bath begins by stating that long ago during the days of King Arthur's rule, England was a magical place. The land was full of fairies and elves, and the Elf Queen and her court could often be found dancing in the green meadows of the countryside.

Yet hundreds of years later, the magical world of fairies and elves has disappeared, and it is no longer possible to experience this once enchanted world. Instead, the forest is crowded with friars and priests where it was once possible to find fantastical creatures. These "holy" men populate every imaginable space: cities, castles, hallways, dairies, and barns. The friars and priests find it necessary to bless every possible space, and their presence inundates every piece of England's land and every stream in the countryside. They crowd the area like the specks of dust visible in a ray of sunlight, bouncing around in seemingly endless quantities.

There used to be space for elves and fairies, but that space has been claimed and repurposed for the uses of the holy men. Therefore, the magical creatures that once flourished in the forests have been pushed out of England; the friars have purged them from existence with the saintly prayers and the blessings they have poured out over a once magical land.

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