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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

Wealth Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #13

And therfore every man this tale I telle,
Wynne who so may, for al is for to selle:
With empty hand men may none haukes lure.
For wynnyng wolde I al his lust endure
.
(419-422)

The Wife of Bath is what today would be called a "gold-digger," itself an ugly antifeminist stereotype that has not disappeared. Here the Wife compares a man using money to attract a woman to the way a falconer lures a hawk with food. This comparison subtly suggests the way that a woman may need as much as want to provide for herself – just like a hawk, a woman must eat to stay alive.

Quote #14

For if I wolde selle my bele chose,
I koude walke as fressh as is a rose
But I wol kepe it for your owene tooth
.
(453-455)

It seems very crass for the Wife to chasten her husband with the amount of money her body could fetch on the open market. But if she's a saleswoman of sex, it's smart; she's driving up the price of her goods by implying that demand for them is high.

Quote #15

Al is his tombe noght so curyus
As was the sepulcre of hym Daryus,
Which that Appelles wroghte subtilly.
It nys but wast to burye hem preciously
.
(503-506)

Do we detect a bit of defensiveness in the Wife's tone? Though she may be right that it would be a waste for her to spend a lot of money on her husband's grave, we can't help but remember that she's perfectly willing to spend lots of money on herself.

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