The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
Thou seist to me, it is a greet meschief
To wedde a povre womman, for costage,
And if she be riche and of heigh parage,
Thanne seistow it is a tormentrie
To soffre hire pride and hir malencolie.
A man might consider it costly to marry a poor woman because she would not be able to bring a large dowry to the wedding. On the other hand, men might complain of the pride and bad temper of a rich woman. This is just one instance of the way antifeminist portrayals of women made it so that no matter their situation, women simply couldn't win.
Thou seist, that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes,
They been assayd at diverse stoundes;
Bacyns, lavours, er that men hem bye,
Spoones and stooles, and al swich housbondrye,
And so been pottes, clothes, and array;
But folkes of wyves maken noon assay.
This bit of antifeminist wisdom explicitly connects wives to property by implying that, like one's other purchasing decisions, the decision to marry a woman ought to occur only after she has been tested. A man might make an argument that marrying a woman was "purchasing" her because of the cost of her upkeep.
But tel me this, why hydestow, with sorwe
The keyes of my cheste awey fro me?
It is my good as wel as thyn, pardee.
The marital equity the Wife implies in the idea that she and her husband own their property together is a pretence. The Wife's actual goal is to have total control (alone) over all the property.