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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

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.

Quote #10

Under that colour hadde I many a mirthe,
For al swich wit is yeven us in our birthe.
Deceite, weping, spinning God hath yive
To wommen kindely whyl they may live

The idea that deceit, weeping, and spinning were the tools natural to womankind is not original to the Wife of Bath, but was a common maxim at this time period. Deceit is definitely a morally reprehensible tool, but since the other two tools, weeping and spinning, seem feeble in comparison, the deceit women use almost begins to seem justified. If those were your only tools, which one would you use?

Quote #11

One of us two moste bowen, doutelees,
And sith a man is more resonable
Than womman is, ye moste been suffrable

Here the Wife strategically uses antifeminist sentiment to get the upper hand in her relationship. Antifeminist discourse holds that women lack reason. Therefore, says the Wife, the man ought to give way first in any argument, since it's impossible for the woman to be made to see reason.

Quote #12

In wommen vinolent is no defence,
This knowen lecchours by experience

The Wife's claim that lecherous men know that a woman who's been drinking is unable to resist sex is a sobering attestation to the prevalence of sexual assault in the Wife's experience.

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