The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
Glose whoso wole, and seye bothe up and doun,
That they were maked for purgacioun
Of uryne, and oure bothe thynges smale
Were eek to knowe a femele fro ma male,
And for noon other cause, -say ye no
The experience woot wel it is noght so.
Glossing was the activity of explaining a text. By referring to it here in relation to the purpose of the genitals, the Wife implies that she's drawing her information about this from scholarly texts. But in line 130, she deploys life experience in opposition to these texts' conclusions, continuing her method of pitting "auctoritee" against experience.
I have the power durynge al my lyf
Upon his propre body, and noght he.
Right thus the Apostel tolde it unto me,
And bad oure housbondes for to love us weel.
Al this sentence me liketh every deel.
Here the Wife demonstrates selective amnesia in her recitation of Biblical texts: the words of Paul actually give husbands and wives power over one another's bodies. The Wife, however, desires absolute power over both her husband and herself, so conveniently forgets to mention the other part of Paul's text.
Whoso that nyl be war by othere men,
By hym shul othere men corrected be.
The same wordes writeth Ptholomee;
Rede it in his Almageste, and take it there.
The idea that one ought to take others' lives of an example was one that was heavily connected to literature and writing, because the examples contained in literature were supposed to be directions for one's own life.