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apollyon exterminans
04-27-2005, 04:21 PM
No, he doesn't hint. He states it outright: "…she…knew the remedies for love's mischances, An art in which she knew the oldest dances."<br><br>There was little or no contraception available in Europ in Chaucer's time. Human nature was the same then as it is now - people had sex. They got pregnant and if that pregnancy was inconvenient or dangerous in someway, they disposed of the child as we do now.<br><br>The 'wise woman' or 'witch' in Europe at the time was nothing more than a herbalist, a hedge-doctor, a tooth-puller - and an abortionist.

Unregistered
04-29-2005, 02:06 PM
She's not an abortionist. When they speak of her knowing the oldest dances of love and it's mischances they're more likely speaking of her extensive knowledge in sexual matters.

James
05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
Does Chaucer hint in the Prologue that the Wife of Bath is a skilled abortionist? "…she…knew the remedies for love's mischances, An art in which she knew the oldest dances."<br><br>Thanks for your comments.

IrishMark
06-07-2007, 04:02 PM
is it possible that uncle Geoffrey is being ambiguous in his portrayal here as this particular line could be interpreted as being a case for Alisoun knowing and practicing abortion, but also undoubtedly points towards the extensive sexual knowledge she has gained. although i must admit, generally speaking and taking the wider portrait of Alisoun into consideration, there can't be said to be a whole deal of evidence in support of her being an abortionist.

ale
09-02-2007, 11:01 PM
I agree with Irish Mark. She never mentions children (neither in her prologue nor in the tale). Besides, she's a religious woman. The fact that she disagrees with (and despises) the Apostle Paul does not mean that she's not a god-fearing person. I feel she would never dare to hint at abortion on a pilgrimage. In addition, she's not a subtle woman. She speaks openly and gives her opinions straightforwardly, so I wonder whether she could merely 'hint' at such a big issue.
I think that "mischances" refers to the problems one could have in marriage (after 5 husbands, she has learnt all the arts!)
Regards,
Ale

Literary_Cat
09-04-2007, 09:57 PM
It is curious that the Wife has no children--yet she brags of her sexual prowess. (Chaucer's description of her in the Prologue as being gap-toothed strongly suggests sexuality.) It does not surprise me that she knows the arts of contraception, though I would tend to think of them as herbal rather than surgical.

This suggestion falls in perfectly with her claim that experience, rather than bookish "authority," is of value.

Kafka's Crow
01-11-2008, 09:30 AM
No, he doesn't hint. He states it outright: "…she…knew the remedies for love's mischances, An art in which she knew the oldest dances."<br><br>There was little or no contraception available in Europ in Chaucer's time. Human nature was the same then as it is now - people had sex. They got pregnant and if that pregnancy was inconvenient or dangerous in someway, they disposed of the child as we do now.<br><br>The 'wise woman' or 'witch' in Europe at the time was nothing more than a herbalist, a hedge-doctor, a tooth-puller - and an abortionist.

I would not read too much into this. This is an allusion to Ovid's erotic poem 'Art of Love' and Chaucer is just being a bit playful here with the title of that poem, using it to add to the general 'seediness' of her personality.