The Canterbury Tales

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The Wife of Bath Character Analysis

The Wife of Bath comes from the town of Bath, which is on the Avon River. She is a seamstress by trade but a professional wife by occupation: she has been married five times and presents herself as the world’s expert in matters of marriage and the relations between men and women. Chaucer describes her as large, gap-toothed, and dressed in red clothing, which is traditionally the color of lust. The Wife of Bath is a force of nature, a larger-than-life character who is not afraid to push her way to the front and state her opinions.

The Wife of Bath Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

The The Canterbury Tales quotes below are all either spoken by The Wife of Bath or refer to The Wife of Bath. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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The Wife of Bath’s Prologue Quotes

Experience, though noon auctoritee
Were in this world, is right ynough for me.

Related Characters: The Wife of Bath (speaker)

Men may devyne and glosen, up and doun,
But wel I woot, expres, without lye,
God bad us for to wexe and multiplye,
That gentil text kan I wel understonde.

Related Characters: The Wife of Bath (speaker)

By God! if women hadde written stories,
As clerkes han withinne hire oratories,
They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse
Than all the mark of Adam may redresse.

Related Characters: The Wife of Bath (speaker)

And whan I saugh he wolde never fyne
To reden on this cursed book al nyght,
Al sodenly thre leves have I plyght
Out of his book, right as he radde, and eke
I with my fest so took hym on the cheke
That in our fyr he fil bakward adoun.

Related Characters: The Wife of Bath (speaker), Jankyn
The Wife of Bath’s Tale Quotes

And eek I praye Jhesu shorte hir lyves
That noght wol be governed by hir wyves,
And olde and angry nygardes of dispence,
God sende hem soon verray pestilence!

Related Characters: The Wife of Bath (speaker)
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The Wife of Bath Character Timeline in The Canterbury Tales

The timeline below shows where the character The Wife of Bath appears in The Canterbury Tales. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
General Prologue
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The slightly deaf Wife of Bath , an excellent seamstress, is always first in line at parish offerings. If anyone brings... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath has been married five times (not to mention her other “company”) and has gone on... (full context)
The Wife of Bath’s Prologue
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The Wife of Bath announces that she is an authority on marriage because of her experience, having had five... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath challenges anyone to prove that God commanded virginity: though it is great for some people,... (full context)
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The Pardoner interrupts, worried because he is about to be married. The Wife of Bath tells him to shut up and have another drink: when she, the expert in marriage,... (full context)
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Of her five husbands, the Wife of Bath says, three were good and two were bad. The first three were good because they... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath tells all the wives to listen to her carefully: Always, she says, be mistress in... (full context)
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For example, says the Wife of Bath , in such a rant, she would ask why the neighbor’s wife looks so pleased... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath rants against the old proverb that women only show their vices after they are married.... (full context)
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The wise astrologer Ptolemy, says the Wife of Bath , knew best: Ptolemy advises men to mind their own business. What good is it... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath boasts that through her sexual and verbal powers, she kept control over her five husbands.... (full context)
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Women, says the Wife of Bath , are born with the tricks of deceiving, weeping, and spying. She also claims that... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath tells about her fourth husband, who took a mistress. Back in those days, the Wife... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath took her fifth husband, a clerk named Jankyn, not for his money but for his... (full context)
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The Wife of Bath is upset to learn about Jankyn’s book of wicked wives that he spends his time... (full context)
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Out of frustration, the Wife of Bath tears three leaves out of the book and punches Jankyn in the face. Jankyn retaliates... (full context)
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The Friar interrupts the Wife of Bath’s prologue to complain about its length. He and the Summoner begin to quarrel. The Friar... (full context)
The Wife of Bath’s Tale
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...to be able to deceive and keep secrets. As proof of this last point, the Wife of Bath tells Ovid’s story of King Midas, whose ears were turned into ass’s ears. Midas begged... (full context)
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...does so, she transforms into a young woman, and they live happily ever after. The Wife of Bath concludes with a plea that Christ send all women meek, young, and fresh husbands who... (full context)