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.
Forbede us thyng, and that desiren we;
Preesse on us faste, and thanne wol we fle;
With daunger oute we al oure chaffare.
Greet prees at market maketh deere ware,
And to greet cheep is holde at litel prys;
This knoweth every womman that is wys.
Here the Wife here reveals herself to possess a good head for business. She's saying that women are willing to lay down lots of money (or sex) for something that's rare or difficult to obtain, demonstrating a good understanding of the basics of supply and demand. This business knowledge fits with with the General Prologue's claim that the Wife was once involved in the textile business.
My fifthe housbonde, God his soule blesse,
Which that I took for love and no richesse,
He somtyme was a clerk at Oxenford.
The Wife was willing to marry for love and not money? (We scrape our jaw off up the floor.) This surprising revelation conflicts with the portrait the Wife has painted of herself as a heartless mercenary in her relationships.
[I] wered upon my gaye scarlet gytes.
Thise wormes ne thise motthes, ne thise mytes,
Upon my peril, frete hem never a deel;
And wostow why? for they were used weel!
A scarlet skirt was bound to attract attention, which was the Wife's intention. A few lines earlier, she says that she attends lots of social events because they afford opportunities for advancement. Her desire to wear fine clothing is not just vanity; it's part of her strategy for her future provisioning.