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 twenty-two: l.1073 'Now wolden som men' - l.1105 'Ye, certeinly'
Synopsis of l.1073-1105
The woeful marriage
The wedding is performed without celebration and the Knight hides himself away like an owl during the day, refusing to be seen in public with his new wife because she looks so ugly. The Old Woman's response is to smile and ask whether every Knight behaves like this with his wife. She reminds him that she is his true wife and that she has also saved his life. He accuses her of being ugly, old, poor and of low birth. She seeks to amend whatever he finds wrong in her, claiming that she can do this within three days if he behaves well towards her.
Commentary on l.1073-1105
l.1074 for my necligence I do no cure / To tellen yow: The Wife steps back from her story to reflect on how she may be being judged for telling it. All The Canterbury Tales are told as part of a story-telling competition.
l.1085 He walweth and he turneth to and fro: There is humour in the Wife's depiction of the Knight's physical distress. There may be some sympathy too from a narrator who, from the age of twelve, was expected to have intercourse with older men.
l.1087 benedicitee!: This exclamation of blessing is actually taken from the Latin Breviary (a service book for prayers at set hours of the day). The Benedicite is a song in which all creation gives thanks to God – an ironic inversion of how the Knight is probably feeling right now.
l.1101 so lough a kynde: The Knight condemns the Old Woman for her poor appearance and low social status, which in his eyes makes her worthless. This is the springboard for her sermon about the true worth of people.
- What connections can you make between this part of the Tale and the Wife's use of the word ‘wo' in her Prologue?
- What connections do you see between this section and the Wife's treatment of her first three husbands in her Prologue?
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