The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1808  Monday, 4 October 2004

From:           Robin Headlam Wells <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 1 Oct 2004 15:00:24 +0100
Subject:        Can Anyone Help?

Does anyone recognise the following phrases (no doubt a bit garbled)
from a plagiarised student essay dealing with astrological symbolism in
Chaucer's portrait of the Wife of Bath? I've tried some obvious sources
like J.D. North, Chaucer's Universe, but no success. I'd be very
grateful if anyone with a photographic memory can help.

Robin Headlam Wells

"The Wife of Bath is an example of the combined character produced by
the influence of two planets. She herself recognizes and sincerely owns
up to this double resemblance ...

She is known as a woman bearing the mark of 'seinte Venus's seal' [but]
the Wife's domineering manner must have some other earthly source. Her
boldness and audacity in her freedom of speech comes from the influence
of Mars. The quality of Venus is evident in her action because the Wife
derives the masculine quality from her second planet ...

She is the scarlet woman, flaunting her wares ... Her face is bold and
red. This signified the colour of Mars ... Her loud voice and
authoritative attitude, all speak of the influence of Mars. Her second
planet has imbedded a love that is more powerful than the deep-seated
sexual appetites which rule her body ...

The affection for elegant dress which Venus gives to her subjects
becomes exaggerated into a taste for loud and pretentious attitudes ...

A last point about the wife's portrait is that it contains several
symbolic details of the sort that appears increasingly in the mocking
portraits of lower characters. The redness of her face, her hat as broad
as a shield and her sharp spurs, all suggest her martial quality."

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