The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
Whoso that first to mille comth, first grint.
I pleyned first: so was our werre y-stint.
The Wife is referring here to how she accuses her husbands of adultery to prevent them from (probably rightly) accusing her of it. Earlier in the Prologue she warned wise wives never to let their husbands catch them in an affair. It seems that the Wife believes that whoever has the moral high ground (or at least the appearance of it) has the power in the relationship.
Oon of us two must bowen, doutelees,
And sith a man is more resonable
Than womman is, ye moste been suffrable.
Here the Wife uses the antifeminist idea the women are unreasonable to force her husband to give in to her. Notice that, true to character, the Wife totally rejects the idea of compromise. One of the two must "bowen," or be subject to the other. There's no power sharing in the Wife's marriages.
This joly clerk Jankin, that was so hende,
Hath wedded me with greet solempnitee,
And to him yaf I al the lond and fee
That evere was me yeven therbifore.
But afterward repented me ful sore;
He nolde suffre nothing of my list.
In giving up her property to Jankyn, the Wife must have forgotten her own insight that whoever owns the property in a relationship has the power. Perhaps the Wife was love-struck; we know from a few lines earlier that Jankyn was the husband she loved best. It seems that love and power-mongering don't go together so well.