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Humanities Research Paper8 page research paper with 9th page as a work cited pageThe wife of Bath write a scholarly research paper about it. Note: _. You must write your paper in MLA format._. You must give adequate examples to support your arguments._. You must cite at least 10 academic sources for your research material._. No more than two sources in one page, and no one source material . should run over 2 lines within the same page.–. Research sources must be documented in the works cited page at the end of the paper.
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The Wife of Bath’s Prologue
The Prologue to the Wife of Bath’s Tale
Experience, though no authority
Ruled in this world, would be enough for me
To speak of the woe that is in marriage.
For, lordings, since I twelve years was of age,
Thanks be to God who eternally does thrive,
Husbands at church-door have I had five –
If it be allowed so oft to wedded be –
And all were worthy men in their degree.
But I was told, for sure, and not long since,
That since Christ never went but once
To a wedding, in Cana of Galilee,
That by the same example He taught me
That I should only be wedded once.
Hark too, lo, what sharp words for the nonce
Beside a well, Jesus, God and Man,
Spoke in reproof of the Samaritan:
‘You have had five husbands,’ quoth he,
‘And that same man that now has thee
Is not your husband’ – so he said for certain.
What he meant by that, I can’t explain;
But I ask you why the fifth man
Was not husband of the Samaritan?
How many was she allowed in marriage?
I have never yet had despite my age
Of that number any definition.
Men may divine and gloss, up and down,
But well I know, indeed, without a lie,
God bade us all to wax and multiply.
That gentle text I well can understand!
And I know too He said that my husband
Should leave father and mother and cleave to me;
But of no number mention made He,
173
Of bigamy or of octogamy.
Why should men then speak of it evilly?
Lo, here, the wise King, old Solomon,
I think he had more wives than one!
As would to God it were permitted me
To be refreshed half so oft as he!
A gift of God had he of all those wives!
No man has such that’s in this world alive.
God knows, that noble king, as I see it,
The first night had many a merry fit
With each of them, so happy was his life!
Blessed be God, that I have wedded five,
And they I picked out from all the best,
Both for their nether purse and their chest.
Diverse schools make perfect clerks,
And diverse practice in many sundry works,
Makes the workman perfect, certainly.
Of five husbands have I made a study;
Welcome the sixth, whenever he befall!
Forsooth, I will not keep me chaste in all;
When my husband from this world is gone,
Some Christian man shall wed me anon.
For then the Apostle says that I am free
To wed, in God’s name, where it pleases me.
He says to be wedded is no sin, I learn:
‘Better to be wedded than to burn.’
What care I if folk speak maliciously
Of wicked Lamech and his bigamy?
I know that Abraham was a holy man,
And Jacob also, as far as ever I can,
And each of them had more wives than two,
And many another holy man had too.
Where can you show me, in any age
That God on high forbade our marriage
By express word? I pray you, tell it me.
Or where commanded he virginity?
I know as well as you, what he said,
174
The Apostle, when he spoke of maidenhead,
He said that precepts for it he had none.
Men may counsel a woman to live alone,
But counselling is no commandment;
He has left it to our own judgement.
For had God commanded maidenhood,
Then had he ended marriage and for good.
And surely, if there were never seed sown,
Virginity, where would that be grown?
Paul did not dare command, not in the least,
A thing of which his Master never preached.
The spear, the prize, is there of virginity;
Catch it who may, and who runs best let’s see!
But this word is not said of every wight,
Rather God’s pleased to grant it of his might.
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!
The long and short: he held virginity
More perfect than marriage in frailty.
Frailty I say, unless the he and she
Would live all their life in chastity.
I grant it well, I would have no envy,
Though maidenhood devalue bigamy.
They like to be clean in body and ghost.
And of my state I will make no boast;
For you well know, a lord in his household
Has not ever vessel made all of gold.
175
Some are of wood, and do good service.
God calls folk in sundry ways like this,
And everyone has from God his own gift,
Some this, some that, as is in His wish.
Virginity is a great perfection
And continence also with devotion.
But Christ, of perfection is the well,
And bade not everyone to go and sell
All that he had, and give it to the poor,
And in that guise follow him, for sure.
He spoke to those who would live perfectly;
And, lordings, by your leave, that is not me!
I will bestow the flower of my age
On the actions and the fruits of marriage.
Tell me then, to what end and conclusion
Were made the members of generation,
And in so perfect wise Man was wrought?
Trust me right well, they were not made for naught.
Gloss as you will and give the explanation
That they were made merely for purgation
Of urine, and both our things, so the tale,
Made but to know the female from the male,
And for no other purpose – say you no?
Experience knows well it is not so.
So long as the clerics with me be not wrath,
I say this: that they are made for both –
That is to say, for office and for ease
Of procreation, that we not God displease.
Why else is it in the books clearly set
That a man shall pay his wife her debt?
Now wherewith should he make his payment,
If he did not use his blessed instrument?
Thus were they added to the creature
To purge urine, and continue nature.
But I do not say every wight is told
That has such tackle, as I unfold,
To go and use it to engender there –
176
Or men for chastity would have no care.
Christ was a maid, yet formed as a man,
And many a saint since the world began,
Yet lived they ever in perfect chastity.
I have no quarrel with virginity;
Of pure wheat-seed let them be bred,
And let us wives be dubbed barley-bread –
And yet with barley-bread, as Mark can
Remind you, Jesus fed full many a man.
In such a state as God has called us,
I will persevere; I am not precious.
In wifehood will I use my instrument
As freely as my Maker has it sent.
If I be niggardly, God give me sorrow!
My husband shall have it eve and morrow,
When he would come forth and pay his debt.
A husband I will have, I will as yet,
Who shall be both my debtor and my thrall,
And bear the tribulation withal
On his own flesh, while I am his wife.
I have the power during my whole life
Over his proper body, and not he.
Right thus the Apostle told it me,
And bade our husbands for to love us well;
On that saying I ever like to dwell.’
Up started the Pardoner, and that anon:
‘Now dame,’ quoth he, ‘by God and by Saint John,
You are a noble preacher in this cause!
I was about to wed a wife: I pause!
What! Should I pay, with my own flesh, so dear?
I’d rather wed no wife, then, any year!’
‘Abide,’ quoth she, ‘my tale’s not yet begun.
Nay, you will drink from a different tun,
Before I go, and savour worse than ale.
And when I have told you all my tale
Of tribulation in marriage,
In which I am an expert at my age –
177
That is to say, I have been the whip –
Then please yourself whether you wish to sip
Of this tun that I shall broach.
Beware of it, before a close approach!
For I shall give examples more than ten.
‘Whoever will not be warned by other men,
To other men shall an example be.’
These very words writes Ptolemy;
Read in his Almagest, and find them there.’
‘Dame, I would pray you, if it is your care,’
Said this Pardoner, ‘as you began,
Tell forth your tale; spare not any man,
And teach us young men of your practices.’
‘Gladly,’ quoth she, ‘if you it pleases.
But yet I ask of all this company,
If I should chance to speak out of whimsy,
Take no offence then at what I say,
For my intention is but to play.
Now sir, then will I tell you all my tale.
If ever I might drink of wine or ale,
I shall speak true: those husbands that I had
Three of them were good, and two were bad.
The three good men were rich and old.
With difficulty only could they hold
To the articles that bound them to me –
You know well what I mean by that, I see!
So help me God, I laugh when I think
That sad to say they never slept a wink.
And, by my faith, I set by it no store.
They gave me land and treasure more;
I had no need to show them diligence
To win their love, or do them reverence.
They loved me so well, by God above
I had no need to set store by their love.
A wise woman will busy herself anon
To win her love, yes, if she has none.
But since I held them wholly in my hand,
178
And since they had given me all their land,
Why should I be concerned to please,
Except for my own profit and my ease?
I set them so to work, by my faith,
That many a night they sang “well-away!”
But never for us the flitch of bacon though,
That some may win in Essex at Dunmow.
I ruled them so according to my law,
That each of them was blissful and in awe,
And brought me pretty things from the fair.
They were full glad when I spoke them fair,
For God knows, I chid them mercilessly.
Now hearken how to act properly.
You wise wives that will understand,
Put them ever in the wrong, out of hand,
For half so boldly there never was a man
Could swear oaths and lie as woman can.
I say this not for wives who are wise,
Unless it be when they are mis-advised.
A wise wife, if she knows good from bad,
Will call the chattering magpies merely mad,
And obtain the witness of her own maid
To what she asserts – listen how I played:
“Old sir dotard is this then your way?
Why is my neighbour’s wife dressed so gay?
She is honoured now wherever she goes;
I sit at home; and lacking decent clothes.
What are you doing at my neighbour’s house?
Is she so fair? Are you so amorous?
What do you whisper to the maid, benedicitee?
Old sir lecher, away with your trickery!
And if I have a gossip with a friend,
All innocently, you chide like the fiend
If I walk or wander to his house.
Yet you come home drunk as a mouse,
And preach from your chair, beyond belief!
You tell me, then, how it’s a great mischief
179
To wed a poor woman, the expense,
And then if she’s rich, of good descent,
Then you say it’s a torment, and misery
To endure her pride and melancholy.
And if she be fair, you proper knave,
You say that every lecher has his way
With her, since none in chastity abide,
When they are assailed from every side.
You say, that some desire us for our riches,
Some for our shapeliness, some for our fairness,
And some because we can sing or dance,
And some for gentleness and dalliance,
Some for our hands and arms so small –
By your word, thus to the devil go us all!
You say men never hold a castle wall,
If it is long laid siege to, it will fall.
And if she be foul, you say that she
Covets every man that she might see,
For like a spaniel she will at him leap
Till she finds some man to take her cheap;
Never a goose so grey swam on the lake
That, say you, it will not find a mate.
You say it’s a hard thing to control
What no man willingly will hold.
Thus say you, lord, on your way to bed,
And that no wise man ever needs to wed,
Nor no man that has his eye on Heaven –
Wild thunderbolts and lightning-fire then
Fall on your withered neck till it be broke!
You say that leaking roofs, and thick smoke,
And chiding wives can make men flee
From their own house – ah, benedicitee,
What ails the old man so to make him chide?
You say we wives will all our vices hide
Till we be wed, and then we show them you.
That may well be the saying of a shrew!
You say that oxen, asses, horse and hound,
180
Can be tried over every sort of ground,
Basins, bowls, before a man may buy;
Spoons, stools, and all such things we try,
And likewise pots, clothes, and finery,
But wives must remain a mystery
Till they be wedded, you old dotard shrew!
And then, we will our vices show, says you.
You say too that it displeases me
Unless you forever praise my beauty,
And every moment pore o’er my face,
And call me “fair dame” in every place,
And lay out for a feast upon the day
When I was born, and make me fresh and gay,
And do my old nurse every honour,
And my chambermaid in my bower,
And my father’s kin and his allies;
So say you, old barrel-full of lies!
And yet because of our apprentice, Jankin,
And his crisp hair, that shines as gold so fine,
And his squiring me both up and down,
You harbour false suspicion, as I found;
I would not want him if you died tomorrow!
But tell me this, why do you hide, a sorrow,
The keys of your chest away from me?
They are my goods as well as yours, pardee!
What, will you make an idiot of your dame?
Now, by that lord who is called Saint James,
You shall not both, whatever be your moods,
Be master of my body, and my goods.
One you shall forgo, so say I,
What need have you to enquire or spy?
I think you’d like to lock me in your chest!
You should say: “Wife, go where you wish.
Take your pleasure; I’ll believe no malice.
I know you for a true wife, Dame Alice.”
We love no man that keeps watch, takes charge
Of where we go; we wish to be at large.
181
Of all men the most blessed must be,
That wise astrologer, old Ptolemy,
That writ this proverb in his Almagest:
“Of all men his wisdom is the highest
That cares not who has this world in his hand.”
By this proverb you must understand,
If you’ve enough, why should you care
How merrily other folks do fare?
Be sure, old dotard, by your leave
You shall have all you wish at eve.
He is too great a niggard who will spurn
A man who wants a light from his lantern;
He will have no less light, pardee!
If you’ve enough, don’t complain to me.
You say too, if we make ourselves gay
With clothing, and with precious array,
It puts us in peril of our chastity.
And yet – curse it – you make free
With these words in the Apostle’s name:
“In clothing made of chastity and shame
You women shall adorn yourselves,” quoth he,
“And not with braided hair, or jewellery,
With pearls, or with gold, or clothes rich.”
According to your text, as your tricks,
I’ll not act, not as much as a gnat!
You said then, that I was like a cat,
For whosoever singes a cat’s skin
Then will the cat keep to his inn;
While if the cat’s skin be sleek and gay,
She’ll not dwell in that house half a day.
But out she’ll pad, ere any daylight fall,
To show her skin, and go and caterwaul.
That is to say, if I feel gay, sir shrew,
I’ll run and show my old clothes to the view.
Sir, old fool, what use to you are spies?
Though you beg Argus with his hundred eyes
To be my body-guard, since he best is,
182
In faith, he shall not if it’s not my wish.
Yet I will trim his beard, as I may thee!
Then you said that there are things three,
The which things trouble all this earth,
And that no man may endure the fourth –
Away, sir shrew, Jesus trim your life!
You preach again and say a hateful wife
Is reckoned to be one of these mischances.
Are there then no other circumstances
You could address your parables to,
Without a poor wife acting one for you?
You even liken woman’s love to Hell,
To barren land, where water may not dwell.
You liken it then, as well, to a wild fire:
The more it burns, the more it has desire
To consume everything that burnt can be.
You say, that just as insects kill a tree,
Just so a wife destroys her husband;
This they know who to a wife are bound.”
Lordings, like this it was, you understand,
I kept my older husbands well in hand
With what they said in their drunkenness;
And all was false, but I had witnesses
In Jankin, and in my niece also.
O Lord, the pain I did them and the woe,
Full innocent, by God’s sweet destiny!
For like a horse I could bite and whinny.
I could moan, when I was the guilty one
Or else I’d oftentimes been done and gone.
Who at the mill is first, first grinds their grain;
So was our strife ended: I did first complain.
They were right glad and quick to apologise
For things they never did in all their lives.
For wenching I would take the man in hand,
Though him so sick he could hardly stand.
Yet it tickled his heart, in that he
Thought I was fond of him as he of me.
183
I swore that all my walking out at night
Was just to spy on the wenches that I cite;
Flying that flag caused me many a mirth.
For all such wit is given us at birth;
Deceit, weeping, spinning, God gives
To woman by nature, while she lives.
And of one thing I can boast, you see:
I had the better of them in high degree,
By cunning, force, or some manner of thing,
Such as continual murmuring and grumbling.
And in bed especially they had mischance:
There was my chiding and remonstrance.
I would no longer in the bed abide,
If I felt his arm across my side,
Till he had paid his ransom to me;
Then would I let him do his nicety.
And therefore every man this tale I tell,
Win whosoever may, for all’s to sell!
With empty hand you will no falcon lure.
In winning would I all his lust endure,
And display a feigned appetite –
And yet in bacon I took no delight.
That was the cause ever I would them chide;
For though the Pope had sat down beside,
I would not spare them at their own board,
For, by my troth, I paid them word for word.
As may aid me God the Omnipotent,
Though I this minute make my testament,
I owe them not a word that was not quits!
I brought it about so by my wits
That they were forced to yield, for the best,
Or else we would never have found rest.
For though he might rage like a maddened lion,
Yet he would always fail in his conclusion.
Then would I say: “My dear, note how meek
The look that Willikin displays, our sheep!
Come here, my spouse, let me kiss your cheek.
184
You should be as patient, and as meek,
And have as sweet and mild a conscience,
Since you preach so much of Job’s patience.
Practice endurance ever that you preach;
And if you don’t then certainly I’ll teach
How fair it is to have a wife at peace.
One of us two must yield, at least,
And since a man is more reasonable
Than a woman, you should be tractable.
What ails you, to grumble so and groan?
Is it you would possess my sex alone?
Why, take it all; lo, have it every bit!
Saint Peter damn you if you don’t enjoy it!
For if I were to sell my belle chose,
I could go as fresh as is the rose;
But I will keep it for your own use.
By God, you are to blame, and that’s the truth.”
Such manner of words have we on hand.
Now will I speak of my fourth husband.
My fourth husband was a reveller;
That is to say, he kept a lover.
And I was young, and my spirits high,
Stubborn and strong, and pert as a magpie.
How I danced to the harp, without fail,
And sang, indeed, like any nightingale,
When I had drunk a draught of sweet wine.
Metellius, the foul churl, the swine,
That with a stick robbed his wife of life
For drinking wine, though I had been his wife
Would never have frightened me from drink!
And after wine on Venus I would think,
For as surely as cold engenders hail,
A gluttonous mouth gets a lecherous tail.
A drunken woman has no true defence;
This lechers know from their experience.
But, Lord Christ, whenever in memory
I recall my youth and all my jollity,
185
It tickles me about my heart’s root.
To this day it does my heart good,
That I have had the world, in my time.
But age, alas, that poisons every clime,
Bereft me of beauty, vigour with it.
Let go, farewell; and the devil take it!
The flour is gone, what more is there to tell.
The bran, as best I can, now I must sell.
But yet to be right merry, I have planned!
Now will I tell you of my fourth husband.
I say, I felt at heart a deal of spite
If he in any other took delight;
But he was paid, by God and Saint Judoc!
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 j …
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