When he bent over her, she hit him once more and again pretended to die. The Wife's fame derives from Chaucer's deft characterization of her as a brassy, bawdy woman—the very antithesis of virtuous womanhood—who challenges the prevailing antifeminism of the times. But, she reasons, even if virginity is important, someone must be procreating so that virgins can be created. Ful many a deyntee hors hadde he in stable, And whan he rood, men myghte his brydel heere Gynglen in a whistlynge wynd als cleere And eek as loude as dooth the chapel belle. His lack of enthusiasm in bed displeases his new wife and she lectures him on virtue; it is not attained by wealth, appearance or status, but rather is cultivated by character.
In Chaucer's time, the antifeminism of the church was a strong controlling factor. Instead, Chaucer parades before us a catalog of the human condition, and we can only wonder how he acquired such insight into human nature and developed the poetic skill to express it. And certainly delighting in good sport, She was right pleasant, amiable- in short. Let go, farewell; and the devil take it! Diverse schools make perfect clerks, And diverse practice in many sundry works, Makes the workman perfect, certainly. Take all my goods, and let my body go. All of this, the Wife of Bath tells the rest of the pilgrims, was a pack of lies—her husbands never held these opinions, but she made these claims to give them grief. The people are repulsed by the knight's behavior and demand justice.
I made him of the same wood a crook — Not of my body, in some foul manner, But was such friends with folk, by and by, That in his own grease I made him fry, For anger, and for very jealousy. In Chaucer's day, it was not uncommon for young women to marry older men. Rather than women being the unfaithful ones when they search for intimacy outside the marriage, she argues that men break the vow when they become old and cannot please their wives. The long and short: he held virginity More perfect than marriage in frailty. He called it Theophrastus and Valerius — At which he used to laugh fit to bust. At her fourth husband's funeral, she could hardly keep her eyes off a young clerk named Jankyn, whom she had already admired. The Wife of Bath's Tale is among the best-known of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
He was a lord ful fat and in good poynt; His eyen stepe, and rollynge in his heed, That stemed as a forneys of a leed; His bootes souple, his hors in greet estaat. Ere I be dead, yet will I kiss thee! She argues for marriage, using many extraordinary arguments. She could transform herself to correct the issues that disgust him, but does he want an old, virtuous, faithful wife, or a beautiful young wife who could easily make him a cuckhold? They gave me land and treasure more; I had no need to show them diligence To win their love, or do them reverence. In other cases, Chaucer creates a dramatic motivation for his pilgrims' choice of tales, as when the Friar's insulting tale of a summoner prompts the Summoner to tell an insulting tale about a friar. He that covets wealth is all the poorer For he would have what is not in his power.
The old hag reminds him that true gentility is not a matter of appearances but of virtue. Nay, you will drink from a different tun, Before I go, and savour worse than ale. He jumped up and hit her with his fist. But, for to speken of hire conscience, She was so charitable and so pitous She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous Kaught in a trappe, if it were deed or bledde. Now hearken how to act properly.
To which thing briefly I answer shall: I say, there was no joy or feast at all; There was only heaviness and much sorrow. And sikerly she was of greet desport, And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port, And peyned hire to countrefete cheere Of court, and to been estatlich of manere, And to ben holden digne of reverence. Ful semely after hir mete she raughte. Nor did he miss the sorrow and woe too That Socrates had with his wives two — How Xantippe poured piss over his head. Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne, Entuned in hir nose ful semely, And frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly, After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe, For Frenssh of Parys was to hire unknowe. But tell me this, why do you hide, a sorrow, The keys of your chest away from me? These translations should be used for a first reading; go carefully through the text, concentrating on the Middle English and checking your reading against the translation. Accounts of the story vary, but in every one, Clytemnestra is in some way responsible for Agamemnon's murder.
In such cases, consult the Explanatory Notes in an edition such as The Riverside Chaucer, or The Canterbury Tales Complete. By God, if women had but written stories, As have these clerks within their oratories, They would have written of men more wickedness 20 Than all the race of Adam could redress. I know well that the Apostle was a maid, But nonetheless, though he wrote and said He wished that everyone was such as He, He was but counselling virginity, And to be wife he still gave me leave Of indulgence; so no reproof indeed, If my husband die, in wedding me, No objection on grounds of bigamy, Though it were good no woman for to touch — He meant in bed or on a couch or such — For peril it is, fire and tow to assemble — You know what this image does resemble! There's no question at all, though, that she gets your attention, which, in a tradition that denied women the possibility of meaningful speech, was half the battle. The Wife of Bath's Tale Set in the gloriously noble times of King Arthur, the wife tells the story of a young knight who is accused of the rape of a maiden. She had some little dogs, too, that she fed On roasted flesh, or milk and fine white bread. She secured his promise to marry her before her fourth husband was even dead. Then read he out how Samson lost his hairs When sleeping, his mistress cut them with her shears; And through this treason lost he either eye.
Reluctantly we show our goods at fairs; Great crowds at market make for dear wares, And what is cheap is held a worthless prize. And on his way back he happened to ride, Full of his cares, under a forest side, Where he saw dancing on woodland floor Of ladies four and twenty, and yet more. And, by my faith, I set by it no store. I know as well as you, what he said, The Apostle, when he spoke of maidenhead, He said that precepts for it he had none. This is an optional component for Activity One, and can be reduced or removed depending on time available.