The Wife of Bath Quotes

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The Wife of Bath's Tale: key quotations
"Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed" Material credentials
"shoes ful moyste and newe" Dresses herself extravagantly, and can afford to
do so
Showing off her wealth and status (wants her
wealth to be acknowledged)
Slightly ironised for this
Appearance is important to her
"worthy womman al hyr lyve" Economically independent
"she passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt" Autonomous and self-sufficient
"Housbondes at chirche dore she hadde fyve" Married five times...
"gat-tothed" "goat-toothed" i.e. lascivious nature
"of remedies of love she knew...the olde She is a sexually experienced character
"Experience, though noon actoritee were in this Use of the word `experience' is a direct
world, is right ynogh for me to speke of wo challenge to the traditional and male-dominated
that is in mariage" authority of the medieval Church
Irony: states that she does not need `auctoritee'
yet goes on to use them at length
Although her argument does not require them,
these examples support her case (supposedly)
"God bad us for to wexe and multiplye" Use of biblical exegesis to bolster argument: but,
the Catholic Church taught that the only reason
for sexual intercourse was procreation ­ it is
clear that the wife married her husbands for
wealth and sexual pleasure
"wise kyng, daun Salomon; I trowe he hadde Another biblical reference to bolster her
wyves mo than oon" home-spun philosophies
These philosophies adduce her biblical examples
in pursuit of an amusingly warped and
self-justifying argument
King Solomon was said to have 700 wives and
300 concubines
However, the effect of Solomon's profusion of
wives is to turn his heart away from God ­ and
this is the example the Wife says she wishes to
Can be argued that she is an unreliable
interpreter of the Bible; does this make us more
inclined to treat her unkindly/ criticize her, or

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Euphemism: to be invigorated by sex
Voracious sexual nature
"welcome the sixte" Comical
"where comanded he virginitee?" Rhetorical questions ­ dominant
Justifying her life choices
"they were nat maad for noght" In reference to sexual organs
"his sely instrument" Male genitalia
"shal be bothe my dettour and my thral" Referring to husbands: they shall be her debtor
"I have the power durynge al my lyf upon his and her slave
propre body" Female dominance
"myn entente nys but for to pleye" Her intention is…read more

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Cannot be restrained ­ independence
The treatment of women as possessions
Alisoun is able to escape due to her cunning
"thou liknest eek wommenes love to helle" An example of what she says her husbands
"thou liknest it also to wilde fyr" blurted out when drunk
Fire imagery
One of the many examples of the misogynist
images of women she mentions
"yit was in the gilt" (I was in the guilt) Admitting to her actions
She is proud of her ability to manipulate
Does this…read more

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Also, mocks the traditional image of a woman as
`property' in sexual trade ­ the Wife is both the
seller and the thing being sold (`all is for to selle')
"Venus me yaf my lust, my likerousnesse" She gets her desire and lecherousness from
Venus ...
"Mars yaf me my sturdy hardynesse" ...…read more


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