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
Silences in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
The significance of silence
Discovering the silences and absences in a text is an important aspect of studying it because they often reveal what the narrative conceals, diminishes or disregards. Carried away by the bold tongue-wagging Wife it can be difficult to discover the silences in the text!
In The Wife of Bath's Prologue men are mainly silent, except in so far as they are voiced by the Wife. It is she who gives an account of what they say, and their views are always firmly countered by the Wife. It is significant that Jankin has accepted the Wife's ‘governance … of his tonge' (l.814-15).
We see this in action when the Pardoner interrupts and is silenced. By this device of brief dialogue, Chaucer dramatises the difficulty of any conversation with a woman who is determined that only her voice should be heard.
The victim's silence
In The Wife of Bath's Tale the raped young girl is silent about the injustice done to her, and the tale itself is silent about her fate. The Queen who has pleaded with her husband to be able to save the Knight is the one to deliver ‘justice' on behalf of the young girl.
The focus at this point of the story is on the assembled court and the fate of the Knight. Effectively the young girl has disappeared and she is not mentioned in the rest of the story. She is an absence. This silence could be an important aspect of an answer to the question: ‘Is the Wife of Bath a feminist?'
Near the end of the tale (l.1253) the silence of the kisses, the wordless moment, portrays the point when the Knight receives his reward for accepting the Old Woman as his wife and surrendering his power. Having at last reached a position of consensus, the debate of the spouses has been stilled, as indeed it was when a similar position was reached by the Wife and Jankin (l.820).
However, it is quickly followed by the comments of the garrulous Wife. You may feel that the joy of the ending is subverted, or you may welcome the return from fantasy to the Wife's realism.
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