Finally, the Answer to What Women Want.

Posted on July 5, 2015


King Arthur encounters the ugly old woman, Ragnelle in a hut.

King Arthur encounters the ugly old woman, Ragnelle in a hut.

Arthurian legends are an immense fount of codes of chivalry and gentlemanly behaviour but the best, if most important piece of knowledge which can be gleamed from all the tomes of Arthurian tales comes from the story of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. In the Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson movie, the question of ‘What Women Want’ is considered to be an issue of emotional sensitivity and awareness; while that is true to a certain extent, most married men (at least those who’ve been married for more than 5 years) have discovered that the answer to “what does a woman want?” is a lot simpler.

What do Women Want?

The story is told in the work of John Gower and Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s tale: King Arthur loses a duel with a Knight of Carlisle and his life is given temporary reprieve if he can answer the armoured warrior’s question, “What does a woman want?”

It’s a question to which his Chief Advisor Merlin and all the other intellectuals (all males as it turns out) of Camelot find impossible to answer. On the eve of Arthur’s last day, he encounters an old hag mid-journey to Carlisle. The loathly lady asks the ashen faced King on the reason for his forlorn ire to which he explains.

Sir Gawain is the Green Knight

Sir Gawain is the Green Knight

She smiles and promises an answer but only if he’ll grant her anything she desires. In his haste, Arthur makes a faustian bargain and agrees. The ugly hag gives him the correct answer saving the melancholic King’s life but his joy soon turns to abject horror when the hag whose name was Dame Ragnelle, issues her desires as promised: she wants a Knight of the Round Table as her husband. Arthur returns to Camelot, unsure if any of his fearless Knights might be so bold. However, his concerns were unfounded, Sir Gawain, the most noble of them, agrees to marry her.

As wedding night arrived necessitating the traditional consummation of marriage, Dame Ragnelle notices Sir Gawain’s dread and tells him that she’s actually the most beautiful woman in all the realm BUT he must choose on which half of the day she appears as such because the nature of the curse demands she stay ugly in the other half.

“Shall I be lovely in the in the day or loathly at night; loathly in the sunshine or lovely in the moonlight?”

Naturally, our loyal Knight wonders if he’d rather make love to an ugly woman in the dim twilight and have a fair maiden with him during his days at Court or if it would be better to make love to the most beautiful woman in the Kingdom by candlelight and live with ignominy during his office hours. Wisely, he tells Ragnelle to make the decision and the curse is broken.  As it turns out, the right answer was – What a woman wants most, is to have her own way. And Gawain and Ragnelle lived the rest of their days as Camelot’s IT couple (Lancelot and Queen Guinevere were quite the scandal unfortunately).

what do women want 2


Posted in: lifestyle