Wife of Bath - Prologue Quotes and Analysis- Breakdown

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The Wife of Bath
1-34 ­ The Church's recognition of her five
"Experience, though noon auctoritee/ Were in this
world, is right ynogh for me/ To speke of wo that is in
She has been married, on and off "sith I twelve yeer was
of age".
Alison wants "deffinicioun" of the permietted number
of husbands.
Alison speaks of the Samaritan who "hast yhad five
In reference to Genesis, she claims that "God bad us for
to wexe and multiplie".
"But of no ombre mencion made he,/ Why sholde men
thane speke of it vileynie?"
35-58 ­ The Wife's supposed biblical support for her
"Lo, heere, the wise king, daun Salomon;"
"As wolde God it were leveful unto me/ To be
refresshed half so ofte as he!"
Vivid imagery of the "many a mirie fit" Saloman has
with his 700 wives.
"And ech of hem hadde wives mo than two,/ And many
another holy man also./ Wher can ye seye, in any
manere age,"

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Marriage and Virginity
"That hye God defended mariage/ By expres word? I
pray yow, telleth me./ Or where commanded he
The wife acknowleges that virginity is a higher state
than marriage, but "conseilling is no commandement."
The wife states that the human race would die out of
every woman remained a virgin; "wherof sholde it
Alison compares virginity to a "vessel al of gold" and
marriage to a dish made "of tree", with both doing "hir
lord servise". (Same outcome).…read more

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Right thus the Apostel (St Paul) tolde it unto me;/ And
bad oure housbondes for to love us weel./ Al this
sentence me liketh every deel."
163-192- The Pardoner's interruption
"Up stirte the Pardoner, and that anon:/ `Now, dame,'
quod he, `by God and by Seint John!/ Ye been a noble
prechour in this cas."
Chaucer uses irony as there the Pardoner's sexuality is
called into question and he comically states "I was
aboute to wedde a wyf." This may be an empty boast.…read more

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The thre were goode men, and riche, and olde;" ­ The
reason they were good is justified by their wealth and
"Unnethe mighte they the statut holde" ­ Uses humour
to suggest her husbands could rarely be sexually active
through arousal.
"I laughe whan I thinke/ How pitously a-night I made
hem swinke!" ­ Physically manipulative.
"I tolde of it no stoor." ­ She was not concerned,
single-minded.…read more

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Being a smart wife, like the story of the `chough' bird
who is silenced by the man and his maid.
235-292- The Wife's accusations against her
"Sire olde kaynard, is this thyn array?/ Why is my
neighebores wyf so gay?- Accusation that she is not
treated as well as her neighbours wife. Alison has no
"thrifty clooth."
"What rowne ye with oure maide?" ­ Accusing them of
flirting with the maid.
"I walke or pleye unto his hous.…read more

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Being polite to my father's "allies". ­ She may be trying
to paint a grand picture of servants and friends.
"barel-ful of lies!"
She answers to suspicion of Jankin, describing his "crispe
heer" yet saying "I wol him nought" even if her husband
died tomorrow. This becomes ironic as it happens.
"I wol him nought, though thou were deed tomorwe!"
308-361- It is useless for a wife to be kept prisoner.…read more

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Thou seydest eek that ther been thinges thre,/ That
whiche things troublen al this erthe,"
"Thou liknest eek wommenes love to helle," ­ Genesis,
Adam and Eve
"the peyne I dide hem and the wo,"
"For as an hors I koude bite and whine"
"Yet tikled I his herte"
"Under that colour hadde I many a mirthe.…read more

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Thanne wolde I seye, "Goode lief, taak keep/ How
mekely looketh Wilkin, oure sheep!" ­ Wilkin the sheep
is probably castrated, the look of pain therefore or
"sith a man is moore resonable" than a woman they
should have to put up with more.
She believes her husbands "grone" as they want to "have
my queynte allone".
She states her loyalty as she could "walke as fressh as is a
rose" (in fine clothes) if she "wolde selle my bele chose".…read more

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She tells the story of her fourth husband in "greet
She did revenge him through her body "Nat of my
body", but "I made folk swich cheere" (friendly towards
She was his "purgatorie" on earth.
Gave him a grave "under the roode beem,"
"Lat him fare wel, God yeve his soul reste!/ He is now in
his grave and in his cheste"
503-524 ­ The violence of husband five and her love
for him nevertheless.
"Now of my fifthe housbonde wol I telle.…read more

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My fifthe housbonde, God his soule blesse!/ Which that
I took for love, and no richesse,"
She gossips with another "Alisoun", mainly about her
husbands embarrasing behaviour which "made his face
often reed and hoot"
She says she dreamt of him, that he had "slain me as I lay
upright." This may be a tactic to speak with him as the
blood in her bed represents `gold.…read more



You are my favourite. Thanks for this - been struggling to break it down into small enough sections and really wrap my head around the story beats. This will really help me get on with revision.

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