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The General Prologue introduction of the Wife of Bath in the Canterbury Tales describes her in detail telling her location, most pronounced physical characteristic, occupation, skill, religious behavior, wealth and style, facial features, her standing in the community, her worldly experiences, her teeth (symbolic of sexuality), her horsemanship, her head wear, her physique, her psychological traits (spur the horse), her sociability, her dabblings in magical and herbal remedies.
A prose paraphrase of Geoffrey Chaucer's description in poetry of the Wife of Bath might run something like this:
In the company was a wife from Bath or its environs who was a little bit hard of hearing. She wove cloth and was more skilled at it than the famous weavers of Belgium in Ypres and Ghent. She was religious and in her perish gave liberal church offerings. In fact, she was angry if any wife gave more than she did and would lose all charitable feelings and kindness toward any for doing so.
Her clothes displayed her wealthy position. Her headgear was of the best material and weave and so elaborate that they weighed at least ten pounds. Her stockings were a scarlet red, the best and most expensive, and she kept them firmly up so they didn't sag and bunch around her ankles. Her shoes were of the best leather, soft, well cared for and new. Her face was attractive and red in color; her expression bold and not timid.
She was a respectable wife. She had had church weddings to five husbands. But that doesn't count other flings she had in her youth, which aren't worth mentioning anymore. She had traveled three time to Jerusalem and could give travelogues of all the places in between. She'd seen Rome, Boulogne, Spain at Santiago and Cologne.
She had a gap between her front teeth and was a good horsewoman. Her headdress was copious with many folds under her chin and the hat she wore over it was as broad as a shield of armor. Her skirt was tucked under her so as not to drag. She had big hips. On her new, soft shoes, she wore spurs and wasn't afraid to use them on the horse. In company, she could comfortably laugh and converse. Lastly, she knew the remedies of love such as love potions; after five husbands, she knew the ancient ways of love.
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