illustration of a clergyman with Canterbury cathedral behind him

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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6: The Man of Law's Tale Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
l. What concession does the Sultan of Syria make in order
to obtain the hand of Constance in marriage?

2. How does Constance end up a widow landing on the coast of Britain?

3. How does Constance come to wed King Aella?

4. What type of wife is Constance intended to represent?

5. How does this contrast with the wives in the preceding stories?

6. List the types of narratives that Chaucer drew on to create this tale.

7. What device is employed extensively in the structure of the tale?

8. Describe the underlying theological theme of The Man of Law's Tale.

9. Describe the events that lead Constance from joy to despair to joy and so on.

10. State the moral of this tale.

1. He agrees to become a Christian.

2. The Sultan is murdered by his mother who also casts Constance off in a rudderless ship.

3. She is introduced to him when she is accused of a murder. The witnesses in her favor and divine intervention convince King Aella of her innocence and virtue. He soon comes to love her and they are wed.

4. The virtuous wife who endures all tribulations and trials.

5. Those women were sexually very lax while Constance is chaste and virtuous.

6. Saints' lives; folktale; romance; myth; tragedy; and biblical text are the types of narratives Chaucer drew on for this tale.

7. Repetition is employed extensively.

8. Persistence in faith is ultimately rewarded with joy.

9. Constance's life was at first a joy with her parents. She found despair when the Sultan was murdered and she was set out to sea. She again found joy when she married King Aella and they had a son. She thought that Aella had rejected her and their son because of the mother-in-law's intervention. She was then set out to sea once again causing her distress. She was then rescued and reunited with her father and, later, Aella. However, Aella died a mere year later. She found peace again at the end when she was reunited with her father and her son Maurice inherited the throne.

10. Virtue is always rewarded or faith will ultimately triumph.

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