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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 Sex Quotes

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

Quote #1

But wel I woot expres, withoute lye,
God bad us for to wexe and multiplye:
That gentil text can I wel understonde

One of the Wife's strongest supports in favor of a life filled with sex is Genesis 1:28, where God tells Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth." It's hard to deny that it's impossible to obey this commandment without having sex!

Quote #2

As wolde God it leveful were unto me
To be refresshed half so ofte as he!
Which yifte of God hadde he for alle his wyvis!
No man hath swich, that in this world alyve is.
God woot this noble king, as to my wit,
The firste night had many a mery fit
With ech of hem, so wel was him on lyve!


With her extended rumination on the pleasure Solomon must have enjoyed on his wedding nights, the Wife demonstrates one of her argumentative strategies: disarming her audience with laughter. She also demonstrates her characteristic lack of reverence for authority figures by daring to speculate about Solomon's sex life.

Quote #3

Telle me also, to what conclusioun
Were membres maad of generacioun
And of so parfit wys a wright y-wroght?
Trusteth right wel, they were nat maad for noght

The argument here is that the genitals must serve some purpose. The Wife goes on to reject the idea that they are only made for urinating and distinguishing between males and females, saying her experience teaches her otherwise. Using the physical evidence apparent on the human body, as well as her own life experience, the Wife separates her argumentative strategy from the more abstract, learned type found in the books of "auctoritees," or authorities.

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