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The Wife of Bath
Sections
Prologue
SECTION ONE (1-192)

1-34 ­ The Church's recognition of her five
marriages.

"Experience, though noon auctoritee/ Were in this
world, is right ynogh for me/ To speke of wo that is in
mariage;"

She has been married, on and off "sith I twelve yeer…

Page 2

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59-114- Marriage and Virginity

"That hye God defended mariage/ By expres word? I
pray yow, telleth me./ Or where commanded he
virginitee?"

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…

Page 3

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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…

Page 4

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"The thre were goode men, and riche, and olde;" ­ The
reason they were good is justified by their wealth and
age.

"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…

Page 5

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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
husbands.

"Sire olde kaynard, is this thyn array?/ Why is my
neighebores wyf so gay?- Accusation that she is not
treated as well as…

Page 6

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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…

Page 7

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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…

Page 8

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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
capture.

"sith a man is moore resonable" than a woman they
should have to put up with more.

She believes her husbands "grone"…

Page 9

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She tells the story of her fourth husband in "greet
despit."

She did revenge him through her body "Nat of my
body", but "I made folk swich cheere" (friendly towards
others).

She was his "purgatorie" on earth.

Gave him a grave "under the roode beem,"

"Lat him fare wel, God…

Page 10

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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."…

Comments

KieranD

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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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