Last Updated September 5, 2023.
I brought my eyes, quoth she, to discerne colours, my tongue to say No to questions I like not, my hands to thrust from mee the things that I loue not, my ears to iudge twixt flattery & friendship, & my féet to run from such as would wrong mée.
The lively widow of Jack's employer, an important figure in the early part of the book and pivotal to his making his fortune, shows herself to be a strong, assertive woman in the mode of Chaucer's Wife of Bath. Many suitors are after her for her money, including the parson, but this older woman has her eyes on the lusty and obedient Jack. In the quote above, she fends off would-be husbands in no uncertain terms.
.... at length the Widow came out of the Kitchen, in a faire traine gowne stucke full of siluer pinnes, a fine white Cap on her head, with cuts of curious néedle worke vnder the same, and an Apron before her as white as the driuen snow: then very modestly making curtsie to them all, shée requested them to sit downe.
The passage above shows Deloney's gift for description, which gives us a glimpse of social history by describing fashions of the time. However, it also displays Deloney's gift for comedy. The widow might be wearing the beautiful clothing of a young woman, but she is old, and as we soon find, missing teeth. Her apron, likewise, might be "white as the driven snow," but she is more bawdy than pure. The humor comes in the contrast between who she is and what she wears.
...he bent his only like to one of his owne seruants, whom he had tried in the guiding of his house a yeare or two: and knowing her carefulnesse in her businesse, faithfull in her dealing, an excellent good huswife, thought it bettsr to haue her with nothing, than some other with much treasure.
Once he is free of the widow who tricked him into marriage, Jack shows his wisdom, pure heart, and goodness—his virtue being one of the main points of this book—by marrying a servant of his without a dowry or money. He prefers her upright character to having a woman with wealth.
To become high, she laid herself so low that the knight suddenly fell over her, which fall became the rising of her belly
Towards the end of the book, in chapter 11, marriage plots continue. In this instance, Jack helps a servant who has been impregnated by a nobleman (knight). The knight would just as soon love her and leave her, but Jack, by dressing the maid in fine clothes, tricks him into thinking she is of a higher social class. We note in the quote above the bawdy humor of the language and the repeated antithesis of "high" and "low" images.