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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 Wealth Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

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. (224-227)

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.

Quote #2

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. (291-296)

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.

Quote #3

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. (314-315)

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.

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