GEOFFREY CHAUCER (approx. 1340-1400)Excerpt from the General Prologue
A worthy woman from beside Bath city
Was with us, somewhat deaf, which was a pity.
In making cloth she showed so great a bent
She bettered those of Ypres and of Gent.
In all the parish not a dame dared stir
Towards the altar steps in front of her,
And if indeed they did, so wrath was she
As to be quite put out of charity.
Her kerchiefs were of finely woven ground;
I dared have sworn they weighed a good ten pound,
The ones she wore on Sunday, on her head.
Her hose were of the finest scarlet red
And gartered tight; her shoes were soft and new.
Bold was her face, handsome, and red in hue.
A worthy woman all her life, what’s more
She’d had five husbands, all at the church door,
Apart from other company in youth;
No need just now to speak of that, forsooth.
Seen many strange rivers and passed over them;
She’d been to Rome and also to Boulogne,
St James of Capostella and Cologne,
And she was skilled in wandering by the way.
She had gap-teeth, set widely, truth to say.
Easily on an Ambling horse she sat
Well wimpled up, and on her head a hat
As broad as is a buckler or a shield;
She had a a flowing mantle that concealed
Large hips, her heels spurred sharply under that.
In company she liked to laugh and chat
And knew the remedies for love’s mischances,
An art in which she knew the oldest dances.
- The author points out to specific skills the character has at the beginning and at the end of the passage. Name and explain them.
- What message do the colours related to the character convey to the reader?
- The physical descriptions of the character are, in your opinion, positive or negative? Explain.
- What irony is contained in the passage?
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© L. R. Capuana
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