The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue
by Geoffrey Chaucer
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.
Now by that lord that called is Seint Jame,
Thou shalt nat bothe, though that thou were wood,
Be maister of my body and of my good;
That oon thou shalt forgo, maugree thyn eyen.
By saying that her husband can have either her property or her body, the Wife is, in effect, offering to trade one for the other. This is not the first or last instance in which she implies that sex is for sale.
Thou seyst also, that if we make us gay
with clothyng and with precious array,
That it is peril of oure chastitee:
And yet, with sorwe, thou most enforce thee,
And seye thise wordes in the Apostles name,
'In habit, maad with chastitee and shame,
Ye wommen shul apparaille yow,' quod he,
'And noght in tressed heer and gay perree,
As perles, ne with gold, ne clothes riche.' (343-351)
This text from Paul is saying that a woman who dresses herself in fancy clothing could not possibly be chaste. At the heart of this sentiment is the idea that a woman who dresses herself nicely and cares about fashion does so because she is trying to attract the attention of men.
I wolde no lenger in the bed abyde,
If that I felte his arm over my syde,
Til he had maad his raunsoun unto me;
Thanne wolde I suffre hym do his nycetee.
This statement conflicts with the Wife's prior expression of a preference that her husband yield the marriage debt to her with his penis. There, the "raunson" was sex; here, it's money.