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
Bread, drink and cooking
Chaucer uses images drawn from the everyday activities of eating and drinking to describe the Wife's sense of the course of her life, her idea of her sexuality and her concept of herself as powerful. Significantly, most of these domestic images come from the Wife's Prologue rather than The Tale.
Food and fertility
- The Wife compares her sense of herself as sexually active with those who prefer to live in chastity as the difference between ‘barly-breed', barley bread, and refined bread from ‘pured whete-seed', pure wheat l.144-5. Barley is lower in gluten than wheat and would make a flatter, greyer loaf with an earthy taste, but was less expensive.
- In l.477-8 the Wife portrays the movement of her life as loss, citing the loss of the sustaining part of grain. The flour is gone, she claims, and she must make the most of the bran, the husks that she has left.
- The Wife uses ‘bacon' as a metaphor for old men and their sexual inadequacy l.418. It resonates ironically with the idea of the competition for the bacon at Dunmow, l. 218, which was awarded to couples who claimed their marriages had been happy during the year.
Eating and arguments
- Farmers and landowners would need to take their grain to a mill to be ground. Getting to the mill first would mean getting your grain ground and ready to use first. The Wife uses this as a metaphor for pre-empting the opposing husband's arguments – l.389. The grinding image is a very appropriate one for the Wife's technique of grinding down her husbands by prolonged argument and opposition.
- The Wife claims she will make her husband ‘frye' in his own grease, l. 487. She provides an image of the anger and jealousy she will create in him. Heat is a common conceptual metaphor for anger.
- The image of drinking l.170 involves imbibing an idea, as the Pardoner must do of the Wife's view of marriage. It turns out to be a forceful unpleasant image: the Pardoner, she jokes, will have to swallow a whole cask of her ideas before she has finished and these will taste worse to him than ale.
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