From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Tale Appearances Quotes

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

Quote #1

But certeinly, er he came fully there,
Vanysshed was this daunce, he nyste where.
No creature saugh he that bar lyf,
Save on the grene he saugh sittynge a wyf –
A fouler wight ther may no man devyse
(1001 – 1005)

The ugly woman's appearance after a mysteriously vanished dancing ring of ladies clues us in to the fact that we've stumbled upon the loathly, or ugly, lady, a figure from Celtic folklore whose job is to test the hero and who, in that folklore, symbolizes the sovereignty of the land.

Quote #2

'For though that I be foul, and oold, and poore,
I nolde for al the metal, ne for oore,
That under erthe is grave, or lith above,
But if thy wyf I were, and eek thy love.'

(1068 – 1072)

The lady's declaration here is kind of heart-wrenching; she reminds us that no matter what one's appearance or years, most people desire love and its trappings.

Quote #3

I seye, ther nas no joye ne feeste at al;
For prively he wedde hir on a morwe,
And al day after hidde hym as an owle,
So wo was hym, his wyf looked so foule
(1084 – 1088)

A noble wedding in a romance is typically the occasion for a narration of a great and elaborate spectacle. The beauty of his wife was a source of pride for the husband, who wanted everybody to see her as it enhanced his status. The fact that this husband "hidde hym as an owle" demonstrates not only his shame, but the fact that he wants to hide himself and his wife from view, which upsets the conventions of both romance and courtly life.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...