The Wife of Bath, G. Chaucer – HOMEWORK

GEOFFREY CHAUCER (approx. 1340-1400)Excerpt from the General Prologue

The Wife of BathGettyImages

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.

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  1. The author points out to specific skills the character has at the beginning and at the end of the passage. Name and explain them.
  2. What message do the colours related to the character convey to the reader?
  3. The physical descriptions of the character are, in your opinion, positive or negative? Explain.
  4. What irony is contained in the passage?

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© L. R. Capuana

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