The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale Contents
- The Prologue: introductory comments
- Part one: l.1 'Experience' - l.76 'Cacche whoso may'
- Part two: l.77 'But this word' - l.134 'To purge uryne'
- Part three: l.135 'But if I seye noght' - l.162 ' Al this sentence'
- Part four: l.163 'Up sterte' - l.192 'For myn entente'
- Part five: l.193 'Now sires' - l.234 'Of hir assent'
- Part six: l.235 'Sire old kanyard' - l.307 'I wol hym noght'
- Part seven: l.308 'But tel me this' - l.378 'This know they'
- Part eight: l.379 'Lordinges, right thus' - l.452 'Now wol I speken'
- Part nine: l.453 'My forthe housebonde' - l.502 'He is now in the grave'
- Part ten: l.503 'Now of my fifthe housebond' - l.542 'Had told to me'
- Part eleven: l.543 'And so bifel' - l.584 'As wel of this'
- Part twelve: l.585 'But now, sire' - l.626 'How poore'
- Part thirteen: l.627 'What sholde I seye' - l.665 'I nolde noght'
- Part fourteen: l.666 'Now wol I seye' - l.710 'That women kan'
- Part fifteen: l.711 'But now to purpos' - l.771 'Somme han kem'
- Part sixteen: l.772 'He spak moore' - l.828 'Now wol I seye'
- Part seventeen: The after words l.829 'The frere lough' - l.856 'Yis dame, quod'
- The Wife of Bath's Tale: Introductory comments
- Part eighteen: l.857 'In the' olde days' - l.898 'To chese weither'
- Part nineteen: l.899 'The queen thanketh' - l.949 'But that tale is nat'
- Part twenty: l.952 'Pardee, we wommen' - l.1004 'These olde folk'
- Part twenty-one: l.1005 'My leve mooder' - l.1072 'And taketh his olde wyf'
- Part twenty-two: l.1073 'Now wolden som men' - l.1105 'Ye, certeinly'
- Part twenty-three: l.1106 'Now sire, quod she' - l.1176 'To lyven vertuously'
- Part twenty-four: l.1177 'And ther as ye' - l.1218 'I shal fulfille'he Holocaust and the creation of
- Part twenty-five: l.1219 'Chese now' - l.1264 'God sende hem'
- Reaction to the Wife's Tale
- Themes in The Wife of Bath's Tale
- The struggle for power in The Wife of Bath's Prologue
- The 'wo' that is in marriage
- The portrayal of gender in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
- Desire and The Wife of Bath's Tale
- Is there justice in The Wife of Bath's Tale
- Social criticism in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
- Marriage and sexuality in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
- Mastery in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
- Debate, dispute and resolution in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
- Tale and teller in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
Part seventeen: The after words l.829 'The frere lough' - l.856 'Yis dame, quod'
Synopsis of l.829-856
Listening to the listeners; the reader and other pilgrims
The Frere (friar) laughs when the Wife finally comes to the end of her tale, (i.e. the tale of her marriages, not the tale that they were expecting to hear). This provokes the Somonour (summoner) into a discordant exchange with the friar:
- The Summoner thinks that the Friar can't criticise anyone for interposing themselves between the listener and the story, since friars are like flies that ‘falle in every dish' (crawl over all sorts of food)
- The Friar threatens that when his turn comes he will tell one or two tales about a summoner that will make everybody laugh
- The Summoner retaliates in kind, saying he'll tell a tale or two about a friar before the company reach Sittingbourne (see Religious / philosophical context > Pilgrims and pilgrimage).
The Host calls for peace immediately, and creates the opportunity for the Wife to start her tale. The Wife makes an ironic quip claiming that she will do so if she has the ‘licence' (permission) of the Friar.
Commentary on l.829-856
It has indeed been a ‘long preamble of a tale'. At the end Chaucer makes us aware of some of the audience, the people to whom the tale is told. These figures can influence the reader's response when they comment on what they have heard. However, the Friar and Summoner move quickly into their own rivalry. The main impression they leave is that the Wife's Prologue has not brought harmony to the group. The pilgrims have certainly heard a tale, but it was not the one that they were expecting.
l.833 quod the somonour, goddes armes two!: The fact that a religious figure blasphemes indicates his personality. The Summoner is swearing by the arms of Jesus, commonly depicted as stretched out on the cross of his crucifixion.
l.837-8 What spwkestow of preambulacioun? / … amble, or trotte, or pees, or go sit doun!: The Summoner takes issue with the Friar's vocabulary, which he doesn't fully comprehend, and punctures it with his coarse response.
l.851 lat the womman telle hire tale: The Wife's voice has prevailed. Has she achieved ‘maistrie' over her audience, if the Host, representing the general will of the pilgrims, has found her worth listening to?
- When you consider the content and characters involved in much of the Wife's Prologue, to what extent do you see Chaucer's framing device of the pilgrimage as:
- Subversively secular?
- Think back on your reading and work on the text as a whole and identify what you see as the major themes of the Wife's Prologue
- Try to express your list of themes in a chart or diagram showing where the themes reveal oppositions in the text .e.g. between male and female / experience and authority / power and domination / pleasure and woe / liberty and constraint
- Do you think that any of these oppositions are resolved or broken down by the end of the text?
- Thinking about the shape and pattern of the Prologue, consider how you might express it diagrammatically on a large sheet of paper:
- What will your diagram look like? (eg. you could use a time-line on which you annotate the periods of the Wife's life - the main movement is chronological, OR you might use a large circle and show how the wife begins and ends with an attack on authority OR …..?)
- Annotate what you produce with quotations, line numbers and drawings (You will find that you have to know the text well to do this and that you may have to revise some of your first ideas about the way in which the narrative is structured)
- When you have done it, you will have a quick revision guide to the text. You can look at it and see immediately what events / ideas / images are in particular sections.
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