© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
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 Sex Quotes

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

Quote #10

By this proverbe thou shalt understonde,
Have thou y-nogh, what that thee recche or care
How merily that othere folkes fare?
For certeyn, olde dotard, by youre leve,
Ye shul have queynte right y-nough at eve

Here we have a very creative interpretation of a proverb from ancient Greek philosopher Ptolemy, which says a wise man doesn't worry about how successful others are. The Wife interprets this to mean that a husband shouldn't care if his wife is having sex with other people, as long as he's getting enough sex, or as she calls it, "queynte."

Quote #11

He is to greet a nigard that wol werne
A man to lighte a candle at his lanterne;
He shal have never the lasse light, pardee.
Have thou y-nough, thee nar nat pleyne thee

The claim that, like a flame, sexual favors can be shared without diminishing them, accords nicely with the Wife's description of herself as up for it, all the time. It also corroborates the anti-feminist stereotype of women as excessively lustful (the idea being that they'll want to have sex with multiple men, without ever getting tired of it).

Quote #12

For al so siker as cold engendreth hayl,
A likerous mouth moste han a likerous tayl.
In wommen vinolent is no defense,
This knowen lecchours by experience

There are two ways to interpret this quote: a "likerous mouth," or mouth that enjoys drinking alcohol, might have a "likerous tayl," or enjoy sex, because the person to whom both mouth and tail belong is inclined to pleasures of the flesh. The last two lines lend themselves to a more sobering interpretation, though, one in which a likerous mouth has a likerous tail because the drunk person is unable to resist a sexual assault.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...