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The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Love Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.

Quote #1

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

Since the Wife refers to the love a husband owes his wife in the context of the power she has over his body, it's likely that with the word love here, she actually means 'make love to.' The Wife neglects to mention the other part of Paul's ("the Apostel") text, which was that the wife must also love her husband well.

Quote #2

They had me yeven hir gold and hir tresoor;
me neded nat do lenger diligence
To wynne hir love, or doon hem reverence

Here the Wife explicitly connects love to money. She's saying that she has no need to please her husband because he's already yielded his property to her. But she could also be implying that by winning her husband's love, she's won his property.

Quote #3

They loved me so wel, by God above,
That I ne tolde no deyntee of hir love.
A wys womman wol sette hire ever in oon
To gete hire love, ther as she hath noon

The Wife "tolde no deyntee" of love that was too freely given, by which she means that she set no value on it. This attitude toward love is part of the Wife's philosophy that everything is for sale and is subject to the supply and demand of the marketplace; things that are too easily gained, she holds to be cheap.

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