The Wife of Bath's Prologue & Tale (Quotes) Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The Wife of Bath's Prologue & Tale (Quotes) Deck (53)
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Reference to polygamy in the bible as a defence of her multiple marriages.

The "hooly" "Abraham" and "Jacob ... hadde wyves mo than two,"

I woot wel Abraham was an hooly man,
And Jacob eek, as ferforth as I kan;
And ech of hem hadde wyves mo than two,
I know well Abraham was a holy man,
And Jacob also, insofar as I know;
And each of them had more than two wives,
(PROLOGUE, 55 - 52)


Advocacy of manipulation of ( and aggression towards) husbands to get own way.

Thus shulde ye speke and bere hem wrong on honde,
For half so boldely kan ther no man
Swere and lyen, as a womman kan.
Thus should you speak and accuse them wrongfully,
For half so boldly can there no man
Swear and lie, as a woman can.
(PROLOGUE, 226 - 228)


Women desire to be free to go where they want.

We love no man that taketh kep or charge
Wher that we goon; we wol ben at oure large.
We love no man who takes notice or concern about
Where we go; we will be free (to do as we wish).
(PROLOGUE, 321 - 322)


Use of antifeminist/sexist ideas for own ends.

Oon of us two moste bowen, doutelees,
And sith a man is moore resonable
Than womman is, ye moste been suffrable.
One of us two must bow, doubtless,
And since a man is more reasonable
Than a woman is, you must be able to bear suffering.
(PROLOGUE, 440 - 442)


Women desire what they cannot have (Not interested in desperate men).

Forbede us thyng, and that desiren we;
Preesse on us faste, and thanne wol we fle.
Forbid us a thing, and we desire it;
Press on us fast, and then will we flee.
(PROLOGUE, 519 - 520)


Women have been portrayed badly due to clerks. If women had written stories, the same would be true of men.

"By God, if wommen hadde writen stories,
As clerkes han withinne hire oratories,
They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse
Than al the mark of Adam may redresse."
[By God, if women had written stories,]
[As clerks have within their studies,]
[They would have written of men more wickedness]
[Than all the male sex could set right.]
(PROLOGUE, 693 - 696)


Women and clerks (men) can never peacefully coexist.

And Venus falleth ther Mercurie is reysed.
And Venus falls where Mercury is raised.


If God had commanded virginity, he would have damned marriage (along with the act of procreation).

For hadde God comanded maydenhede,
Thanne hadde he dampned weddyng with the dede.
For had God commanded maidenhood,
Then had he damned marriage along with the act (of procreation).
(PROLOGUE, 69-70)


Unfortunate use of phallic imagery in describing church doctrines of virginity.

The dart is set up for virginitee;


Admits she is not perfect (like Flamineo in WD).

He spak to hem that wolde lyve parfitly;
And lordynges, by youre leve, that am nat I.
He spoke to those who would live perfectly;
And gentlemen, by your leave, I am not that.
(PROLOGUE, 111-112)


Marriage/sex is her talent (after admitting imperfection).

I wol bistowe the flour of al myn age
In the actes and in fruyt of mariage.
I will bestow the flower of all my age
In the acts and in fruit of marriage.
(PROLOGUE, 113-114)


Man's best payment for marriage is sex (penis reference).

Now wherwith sholde he make his paiement,
If he ne used his sely instrument?
Now with what should he make his payment,
If he did not use his blessed instrument?
(PROLOGUE, 131-132)


Will use her sexuality as freely as God sent it to her. (Reference to use as a tool)

In wyfhod I wol use myn instrument
As frely as my Makere hath it sent.
In wifehood I will use my instrument
As freely as my Maker has it sent.
(PROLOGUE, 149-150)


Opening line: what guides her?

Experience, though noon auctoritee
Experience, though no written authority


Fate, the stars, state of the heavens (single word).



Growing old, will use what she has left.

Lost her "flour", will try to sell her "bran".


Janekin's book

“book of wikked wyves”


Friar interrupts

"This is a long preamble of a tale!"
(End of Prologue, 831)


Summonour responds to Friar

"By God's two arms!", blasphemy
(End of Prologue, 833)


Lying/blackmailing husbands for things they didn't do/say.

Things "they seyden in hir dronkenesse / and al was fals"


Understands importance of church ritual in marriage.

"at chirche dore"
(Start of Prologue, 6)


General prologue: Experience with love.

Knew all the "remedies of love", had learnt "the olde daunce."


General prologue: Evidence of her lustiness.

She was "gat-toothed".


Loses where she is (distracted).

"I have my tale ageyn."
(Prologue, 586)


Unattractive description of first husbands (old).

(Prologue, 217)


Evidence of wife in control of first husbands.

"I governed hem so wel, after my lawe,"
"I governed them so well, according to my law,"
(Prologue, 219)


Old hag.

"loathly lady"


WOB’s use of bible to justify her sexual activity suggests she is a lollard (critic)

"God bad us for to wexe and multiplye"

Alisoun's “emphatic determination to recuperate sexual activity within a Christian context and on the authority of the Bible echoes one of the points made in the Lollard Twelve Conclusions of 1395" - Helen Cooper


WOB’s riches serve her well, possibly even making up for her lack of virginity? (critic)

“a rich widow was considered to be a match equal to, or more desirable than, a match with a virgin of property” - Mary Carruthers


Lots of sex in her marriages.

"Myn housbonde shal it have bothe eve and morwe,"