Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Lines 263-290

By Geoffrey Chaucer

Lines 263-290

  • You say that men lust after women for our wealth, others for our figures, others for our beauty, others for our talent at singing or dancing, others for our good manners, others for our small arms and hands.
  • According to you, then, all women are impossible to keep chaste, because they're like a castle wall that's under siege – they can't be protected for long.
  • If a woman is ugly, you say that she lusts after every man she sees, like a dog who wants to jump on everyone, until she finds a man willing to have sex with her.
  • When we go to bed, you say that it's very hard for you to have to embrace something that no other man wants to embrace.
  • You say that no wise man needs to marry, nor any man who wants to go to heaven.
  • May your neck be broken by thunder and lightning!
  • You say that leaky roofs and smoke and the scolding of wives make men flee their own houses. What can be wrong with you, so to criticize your wife?
  • You say that wives will hide their flaws until they're married, at which point we reveal them. That's the proverb of a shrew!