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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
 Table of Contents

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

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

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. (334-338)

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 #2

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. (333-336)

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 #3

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. (471-474)

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.

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