due in 72 hours
Reading response 1
You must have two quotes that are cited and introduced correctly in each paragraph:
What are In-Text Citations?
Lecture – Present Tense -2
Malleus Maleficarum Discussion
Bonus points may be earned by responding thoughtfully to the posts of your classmates. You will not be able to see their posts until you contribute your own.
Answer both of the following questions regarding your reading of The Malleus Maleficarum. Each of your answers should be at least one paragraph long, and should include specific lines/quotations from the original text to support your ideas.
1) What reference is made in The Malleus Maleficarum to the story of Adam and Eve? What connection do you see between that reference and the Biblical texts you read last week?
2) Look back at your terminology Power Point at the term “Essentialism.” What does The Malleus Maleficarum say about women and men’s essential natures? How are they different?
The Wife of Bath Discussion
Choose one of the following questions below and write a well-developed paragraph in response, using a quotation from the text to prove your point.
1) After reading the tale, what parts of it do you find empowering to women? Was there anything you found dis-empowering or sexist?
2) How do stereotypes operate in the tale? (Think about stereotypes of men and women, stereotypes to do with what women vs. men desire, stereotypes about age and beauty)
A Room of One’s Own
A Room of One’s Own
A L M A C L A S S I C S
a l m a c l as s i c s
an imprint of
a l m a b o o k s lt d
3 Castle Yard
Surrey TW10 6TF
A Room of One’s Own first published in 1929
This edition first published by Alma Classics in 201
© Alma Books Ltd
Cover design: Will Dady
Printed in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY
i s b n : 978-1-84749-788-
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acknowledge their copyright status, but should there have been any
unwitting oversight on our part, we would be happy to rectify the error
in subsequent printings.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
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otherwise circulated without the express prior consent of the publisher.
A Room of One’s Own 1
Chapter II 30
Chapter III 50
Chapter IV 69
Chapter V 9
Chapter VI 11
Extra Material 153
Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
Julia Duckworth Stephen,
Talland House, the Stephens’ summer house in St Ives(above)
and Monk’s House, the Woolfs’ Sussex cottage (below)
Cover of the first edition of
A Room of One’s Own
A Room of One’s Own *
B ut, you may say, we asked you to speak about women and fiction – what has that got to do with a room of
one’s own? I will try to explain. When you asked me to speak
about women and fiction I sat down on the banks of a river
and began to wonder what the words meant. They might
mean simply a few remarks about Fanny Burney; a few more
about Jane Austen; a tribute to the Brontës and a sketch of
Haworth Parsonage under snow; some witticisms if pos-
sible about Miss Mitford;* a respectful allusion to George
Eliot; a reference to Mrs Gaskell and one would have done.
But at second sight the words seemed not so simple. The
title “women and fiction” might mean, and you may have
meant it to mean, women and what they are like, or it might
mean women and the fiction that they write; or it might
mean women and the fiction that is written about them; or
it might mean that somehow all three are inextricably mixed
together and you want me to consider them in that light. But
when I began to consider the subject in this last way, which
seemed the most interesting, I soon saw that it had one fatal
drawback. I should never be able to come to a conclusion. I
should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first
duty of a lecturer – to hand you after an hour’s discourse a
a room of one’s own
nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your
notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece for ever. All I could
do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point – a
woman must have money and a room of her own if she is
to write fiction – and that, as you will see, leaves the great
problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature
of fiction unsolved. I have shirked the duty of coming to a
conclusion upon these two questions – women and fiction
remain, so far as I am concerned, unsolved problems. But in
order to make some amends I am going to do what I can to
show you how I arrived at this opinion about the room and
the money. I am going to develop in your presence as fully
and freely as I can the train of thought which led me to think
this. Perhaps if I lay bare the ideas, the prejudices that lie
behind this statement you will find that they have some bear-
ing upon women and some upon fiction. At any rate, when a
subject is highly controversial – and any question about sex is
that – one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show
how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One
can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own
conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices,
the idiosyncrasies of the speaker. Fiction here is likely to con-
tain more truth than fact. Therefore I propose, making use
of all the liberties and licences of a novelist, to tell you the
story of the two days that preceded my coming here – how,
bowed down by the weight of the subject which you have
laid upon my shoulders, I pondered it and made it work in
and out of my daily life. I need not say that what I am about
to describe has no existence; Oxbridge is an invention; so is
Fernham; “I” is only a convenient term for somebody who
has no real being. Lies will flow from my lips, but there may
perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to
seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is
worth keeping. If not, you will of course throw the whole of
it into the waste-paper basket and forget all about it.
Here then was I (call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary
Carmichael* or by any name you please – it is not a matter
of importance), sitting on the banks of a river a week or
two ago in fine October weather, lost in thought. That
collar I have spoken of – women and fiction, the need of
coming to some conclusion on a subject that raises all
sorts of prejudices and passions – bowed my head to the
ground. To the right and left bushes of some sort, golden
and crimson, glowed with the colour, even it seemed burnt
with the heat, of fire. On the further bank the willows wept
in perpetual lamentation, their hair about their shoulders.
The river reflected whatever it chose of sky and bridge and
burning tree, and when the undergraduate had oared his
boat through the reflections they closed again, completely,
as if he had never been. There one might have sat the clock
round lost in thought. Thought – to call it by a prouder name
than it deserved – had let its line down into the stream. It
swayed, minute after minute, hither and thither among the
reflections and the weeds, letting the water lift it and sink it
until – you know the little tug, the sudden conglomeration
of an idea at the end of one’s line, and then the cautious
a room of one’s own
hauling of it in, and the careful laying of it out? Alas, laid
on the grass how small, how insignificant this thought of
mine looked; the sort of fish that a good fisherman puts
back into the water so that it may grow fatter and be one
day worth cooking and eating. I will not trouble you with
that thought now, though if you look carefully you may
find it for yourselves in the course of what I am going to say.
But however small it was, it had, nevertheless, the mysteri-
ous property of its kind – put back into the mind, it became
at once very exciting and important, and, as it darted and
sank and flashed hither and thither, set up such a wash and
tumult of ideas that it was impossible to sit still. It was thus
that I found myself walking with extreme rapidity across a
grass plot. Instantly a man’s figure rose to intercept me. Nor
did I at first understand that the gesticulations of a curious-
looking object, in a cutaway coat and evening shirt, were
aimed at me. His face expressed horror and indignation.
Instinct rather than reason came to my help; he was a beadle;
I was a woman. This was the turf; there was the path. Only
the fellows and scholars are allowed here; the gravel is the
place for me. Such thoughts were the work of a moment.
As I regained the path, the arms of the beadle sank, his face
assumed its usual repose, and though turf is better walking
than gravel, no very great harm was done. The only charge
I could bring against the fellows and scholars of whatever
the college might happen to be was that in protection of
their turf, which has been rolled for three hundred years in
succession, they had sent my little fish into hiding.
What idea it had been that had sent me so audaciously
trespassing I could not now remember. The spirit of peace
descended like a cloud from heaven, for if the spirit of
peace dwells anywhere, it is in the courts and quadrangles
of Oxbridge on a fine October morning. Strolling through
those colleges past those ancient halls, the roughness of the
present seemed smoothed away; the body seemed contained
in a miraculous glass cabinet through which no sound could
penetrate, and the mind, freed from any contact with facts
(unless one trespassed on the turf again), was at liberty to
settle down upon whatever meditation was in harmony with
the moment. As chance would have it, some stray memory of
some old essay about revisiting Oxbridge in the long vacation
brought Charles Lamb to mind – St Charles, said Thackeray,
putting a letter of Lamb’s to his forehead.* Indeed, among all
the dead (I give you my thoughts as they came to me), Lamb
is one of the most congenial; one to whom one would have
liked to say, “Tell me then how you wrote your essays?” For
his essays are superior even to Max Beerbohm’s,* I thought,
with all their perfection, because of that wild flash of imagi-
nation, that lightning crack of genius in the middle of them
which leaves them flawed and imperfect, but starred with
poetry. Lamb then came to Oxbridge perhaps a hundred
years ago. Certainly he wrote an essay – the name escapes
me – about the manuscript of one of Milton’s poems which
he saw here. It was ‘Lycidas’* perhaps, and Lamb wrote
how it shocked him to think it possible that any word in
‘Lycidas’ could have been different from what it is. To think
a room of one’s own
of Milton changing the words in that poem seemed to him
a sort of sacrilege. This led me to remember what I could
of ‘Lycidas’ and to amuse myself with guessing which word
it could have been that Milton had altered, and why. It then
occurred to me that the very manuscript itself which Lamb
had looked at was only a few hundred yards away, so that one
could follow Lamb’s footsteps across the quadrangle to that
famous library* where the treasure is kept. Moreover, I recol-
lected, as I put this plan into execution, it is in this famous
library that the manuscript of Thackeray’s Esmond* is also
preserved. The critics often say that Esmond is Thackeray’s
most perfect novel. But the affectation of the style, with its
imitation of the eighteenth century, hampers one, so far as
I can remember; unless indeed the eighteenth-century style
was natural to Thackeray – a fact that one might prove by
looking at the manuscript and seeing whether the altera-
tions were for the benefit of the style or of the sense. But
then one would have to decide what is style and what is
meaning, a question which… but here I was actually at the
door which leads into the library itself. I must have opened
it, for instantly there issued, like a guardian angel barring
the way with a flutter of black gown instead of white wings,
a deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman, who regretted in a
low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted
to the library if accompanied by a fellow of the College or
furnished with a letter of introduction.
That a famous library has been cursed by a woman is
a matter of complete indifference to a famous library.
Venerable and calm, with all its treasures safe locked within
its breast, it sleeps complacently and will, so far as I am
concerned, so sleep for ever. Never will I wake those echoes,
never will I ask for that hospitality again, I vowed as I
descended the steps in anger. Still an hour remained before
luncheon, and what was one to do? Stroll on the meadows?
Sit by the river? Certainly it was a lovely autumn morn-
ing; the leaves were fluttering red to the ground; there was
no great hardship in doing either. But the sound of music
reached my ear. Some service or celebration was going for-
ward. The organ complained magnificently as I passed the
chapel door. Even the sorrow of Christianity sounded in that
serene air more like the recollection of sorrow than sorrow
itself; even the groanings of the ancient organ seemed lapped
in peace. I had no wish to enter had I the right, and this
time the verger might have stopped me, demanding perhaps
my baptismal certificate, or a letter of introduction from
the Dean. But the outside of these magnificent buildings is
often as beautiful as the inside. Moreover, it was amusing
enough to watch the congregation assembling, coming in
and going out again, busying themselves at the door of the
chapel like bees at the mouth of a hive. Many were in cap
and gown; some had tufts of fur on their shoulders; others
were wheeled in bath chairs; others, though not past middle
age, seemed creased and crushed into shapes so singular
that one was reminded of those giant crabs and crayfish
who heave with difficulty across the sand of an aquarium.
As I leant against the wall, the University indeed seemed a
a room of one’s own
sanctuary in which are preserved rare types which would
soon be obsolete if left to fight for existence on the pavement
of the Strand. Old stories of old deans and old dons came
back to mind, but before I had summoned up courage to
whistle – it used to be said that at the sound of a whistle old
Professor —— instantly broke into a gallop – the venerable
congregation had gone inside. The outside of the chapel
remained. As you know, its high domes and pinnacles can
be seen, like a sailing ship always voyaging never arriving,
lit up at night and visible for miles, far away across the hills.
Once, presumably, this quadrangle with its smooth lawns, its
massive buildings and the chapel itself was marsh too, where
the grasses waved and the swine rootled. Teams of horses
and oxen, I thought, must have hauled the stone in wagons
from far countries, and then with infinite labour the grey
blocks in whose shade I was now standing were poised in
order one on top of another, and then the painters brought
their glass for the windows, and the masons were busy for
centuries up on that roof with putty and cement, spade
and trowel. Every Saturday somebody must have poured
gold and silver out of a leathern purse into their ancient
fists, for they had their beer and skittles presumably of an
evening. An unending stream of gold and silver, I thought,
must have flowed into this court perpetually to keep the
stones coming and the masons working – to level, to ditch,
to dig and to drain. But it was then the age of faith, and
money was poured liberally to set these stones on a deep
foundation, and when the stones were raised, still more
money was poured in from the coffers of kings and queens
and great nobles to ensure that hymns should be sung here
and scholars taught. Lands were granted; tithes were paid.
And when the age of faith was over and the age of reason
had come, still the same flow of gold and silver went on;
fellowships were founded; lectureships endowed; only the
gold and silver flowed now, not from the coffers of the king,
but from the chests of merchants and manufacturers, from
the purses of men who had made, say, a fortune from indus-
try, and returned, in their wills, a bounteous share of it to
endow more chairs, more lectureships, more fellowships in
the university where they had learnt their craft. Hence the
libraries and laboratories, the observatories, the splendid
equipment of costly and delicate instruments which now
stands on glass shelves, where centuries ago the grasses
waved and the swine rootled. Certainly, as I strolled round
the court, the foundation of gold and silver seemed deep
enough; the pavement laid solidly over the wild grasses.
Men with trays on their heads went busily from staircase to
staircase. Gaudy blossoms flowered in window boxes. The
strains of the gramophone blared out from the rooms within.
It was impossible not to reflect – the reflection, whatever it
may have been, was cut short. The clock struck. It was time
to find one’s way to luncheon.
It is a curious fact that novelists have a way of making
us believe that luncheon parties are invariably memorable
for something very witty that was said, or for something
very wise that was done. But they seldom spare a word for
a room of one’s own
what was eaten. It is part of the novelist’s convention not
to mention soup and salmon and ducklings, as if soup and
salmon and ducklings were of no importance whatsoever,
as if nobody ever smoked a cigar or drank a glass of wine.
Here, however, I shall take the liberty to defy that convention
and to tell you that the lunch on this occasion began with
soles, sunk in a deep dish, over which the college cook had
spread a counterpane of the whitest cream, save that it was
branded here and there with brown spots like the spots on
the flanks of a doe. After that came the partridges, but if
this suggests a couple of bald, brown birds on a plate you are
mistaken. The partridges, many and various, came with all
their retinue of sauces and salads, the sharp and the sweet,
each in its order, their potatoes thin as coins but not so
hard, their sprouts foliated as rosebuds but more succulent.
And no sooner had the roast and its retinue been done with
than the silent serving man, the beadle himself perhaps in
a milder manifestation, set before us, wreathed in napkins,
a confection which rose all sugar from the waves. To call
it pudding and so relate it to rice and tapioca would be an
insult. Meanwhile the wineglasses had flushed yellow and
flushed crimson, had been emptied, had been filled. And
thus by degrees was lit, halfway down the spine, which is
the seat of the soul, not that hard little electric light which
we call brilliance, as it pops in and out upon our lips, but
the more profound, subtle and subterranean glow which
is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse. No need
to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but
oneself. We are all going to heaven and Van Dyck is of the
company* – in other words, how good life seemed, how
sweet its rewards, how trivial this grudge or that grievance,
how admirable friendship and the society of one’s kind, as,
lighting a good cigarette, one sunk among the cushions in
the window seat.
If by good luck there had been an ashtray handy, if one
had not knocked the ash out of the window in default, if
things had been a little different from what they were, one
would not have seen, presumably, a cat without a tail. The
sight of that abrupt and truncated animal padding softly
across the quadrangle changed by some fluke of the sub-
conscious intelligence the emotional light for me. It was as
if someone had let fall a shade. Perhaps the excellent hock
was relinquishing its hold. Certainly, as I watched the Manx
cat pause in the middle of the lawn as if it too questioned
the universe, something seemed lacking, something seemed
different. But what was lacking, what was different? I asked
myself, listening to the talk. And to answer that question
I had to think myself out of the room, back into the past,
before the war indeed, and to set before my eyes the model
of another luncheon party held in rooms not very far dis-
tant from these, but different. Everything was different.
Meanwhile the talk went on among the guests, who were
many and young, some of this sex, some of that; it went on
swimmingly, it went on agreeably, freely, amusingly. And as
it went on I set it against the background of that other talk,
and as I matched the two together I had no doubt that one
a room of one’s own
was the descendant, the legitimate heir of the other. Nothing
was changed; nothing was different save only – here I listened
with all my ears not entirely to what was being said, but
to the murmur or current behind it. Yes, that was it – the
change was there. Before the war at a luncheon party like
this people would have said precisely the same things but
they would have sounded different, because in those days
they were accompanied by a sort of humming noise, not
articulate, but musical, exciting, which changed the value of
the words themselves. Could one set that humming noise to
words? Perhaps with the help of the poets one could. A book
lay beside me and, opening it, I turned casually enough to
Tennyson. And here I found Tennyson was singing:
There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near”;
And the white rose weeps, “She is late”;
The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear”;
And the lily whispers, “I wait.”*
Was that what men hummed at luncheon parties before the
war? And the women?
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.*
Was that what women hummed at luncheon parties before
There was something so ludicrous in thinking of people
humming such things even under their breath at luncheon
parties before the war that I burst out laughing, and had
to explain my laughter by pointing at the Manx cat, who
did look a little absurd, poor beast, without a tail, in the
middle of the lawn. Was he really born so, or had he lost
his tail in an accident? The tailless cat, though some are
said to exist in the Isle of Man, is rarer than one thinks. It
is a queer animal, quaint rather than beautiful. It is strange
what a difference a tail makes – you know the sort of things
one says as a lunch party breaks up and people are finding
their coats and hats.
This one, thanks to the hospitality of the host, had lasted
far into the afternoon. The beautiful October day was fading
and the leaves were falling from the trees in the avenue as
I walked through it. Gate after gate seemed to close with
gentle finality behind me. Innumerable beadles were fitting
innumerable keys into well-oiled locks; the treasure house
was being made secure for another night. After the avenue
a room of one’s own
one comes out upon a road – I forget its name – which
leads you, if you take the right turning, along to Fernham.
But there was plenty of time. Dinner was not till half-past
seven. One could almost do without dinner after such a
luncheon. It is strange how a scrap of poetry works in the
mind and makes the legs move in time to it along the road.
Those words –
There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear
– sang in my blood as I stepped quickly along towards
Headingley. And then, switching off into the other measure,
I sang, where the waters are churned up by the weir:
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple tree…
“What poets,” I cried aloud, as one does in the dusk, “what
poets they were!”
In a sort of jealousy, I suppose, for our own age, silly and
absurd though these comparisons are, I went on to wonder
if honestly one could name two living poets now as great
as Tennyson and Christina Rossetti were then. Obviously
it is impossible, I thought, looking into those foaming
waters, to compare them. The very reason why that poetry
Note on the Text
Virginia Woolf ’s Life
Virginia Woolf ’s Works
Excerptsfrom The Malleus Maleficarum
About the text: The Malleus Maleficarum was at one point the most popular book on earth after
the Bible. It was written by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger and details how witches came
to be, how to discover witches, and how to punish them in courts. The book was so highly
regarded by the Catholic Church that anyone who disagreed with any part of the book was
labeled a heretic and ran the risk of being tortured or executed as a witch themselves. Nearly
600,000 women and female children (that we know of) were tortured and executed as witches
during the Inquisition with help from this book. Some scholars put the number as high as
8,000,000. We will never know exactly.
Here are the titles of the chapters of The Malleus Maleficarum:
The Belief in Witches is so Essential a Part of the Catholic Faith that Having the
Opposite Opinion Manifestly Qualifies as Heresy
Whether Children can be Generated by Incubi and Succubi
By which Devils are the Operations of Incubus and Sucubus Pratcised?
What is the Source of the Increase of Works of Witchcraft? Why Has It So Notably
Why is it that Women are Chiefly Addicted to Evil Superstitions?
Whether Witches Can Sway the Minds of Men to Love
Whether Witches can Hebetate the Powers of Generation or Obstruct the Venereal Act
Whether Witches Can Change Men into Beasts
Witches Who are Midwives Kill Children Conceived in the Womb, Procure Abortions,
Offer New-Born Children to Devils, or Eat Them
Excerpt from the Section on Why there are more Women Witches than Men:
Others again have propounded other reasons why there are more superstitious women
found than men. And the first is, that they are more credulous; and since the chief aim of the
devil is to corrupt faith, therefore he rather attacks them… The second reason is, that women are
naturally more impressionable, and more ready to receive the influence of a disembodied spirit;
and that when they use this quality well they are very good, but when they use it ill they are very
evil….The third reason is that they have slippery tongues, and are unable to conceal from the
fellow-women those things which by evil arts they know; and, since they are weak, they find an
easy and secret manner of vindicating themselves by witchcraft….All wickedness is but little to
the wickedness of a woman. And to this may be added that, as they are very impressionable, they
But because in these times this perfidy is more often found in women than in men, as we
learn by actual experience, if anyone is curious as to the reason, we may add to what has already
been said the following: that since they are feebler both in mind and body, it is not surprising that
they should come more under the spell of witchcraft . . .
But the natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her many
carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first
woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were
in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect animal, she
always deceives . . .
And indeed, just as through the first defect in their intelligence that are more prone to
abjure the faith; so through their second defect of inordinate affections and passions they search
for, brood over, and inflict various vengeances, either by witchcraft, or by some other means.
Wherefore it is no wonder that so great a number of witches exist in this sex . . .
To conclude. All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable. See
Proverbs xxx: There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, a fourth thing which says not, It
is enough; that is, the mouth of the womb. Wherefore for the sake of fulfilling their lusts they
consort even with devils. More such reasons could be brought forward, but to the understanding
it is sufficiently clear that it is no matter for wonder that there are more women than men found
infected with the heresy of witchcraft. And in consequence of this, it is better called the heresy of
witches than of wizards, since the name is taken from the more powerful party. And blessed be
the Highest Who has so far preserved the male sex from so great a crime: for since He was
willing to be born and to suffer for us, therefore He has granted to men the privilege.
Excerpt from Section on How to Determine if a Woman is a Witch:
If he wishes to find out whether she is endowed with a witch’s power of preserving
silence, let him take note whether she is able to shed tears when standing in his presence, or
when being tortured. For we are taught both by the words of worthy men of old and by our
own experience that this is a most certain sign, and it has been found that even if she be
urged and exhorted by solemn conjurations to shed tears, if she be a witch she will not be
able to weep: although she will assume a tearful aspect and smear her cheeks and eyes with
spittle to make it appear that she is weeping; wherefore she must be closely watched by the
In passing sentence the Judge or priest may use some such method as the following in
conjuring her to true tears if she be innocent, or in restraining false tears. Let him place his
hand on the head of the accused and say: I conjure you by the bitter tears shed on the Cross
by our Saviour the Lord JESUS Christ for the salvation of the world, and by the burning
tears poured in the evening hour over His wounds by the most glorious Virgin MARY, His
Mother, and by all the tears which have been shed here in this world by the Saints and Elect
of God, from whose eyes He has now wiped away all tears, that if you be innocent you do
now shed tears, but if you be guilty that you shall by no means do so. In the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
And it is found by experience that the more they are conjured the less are they able to
weep, however hard they may try to do so, or smear their cheeks with spittle. Nevertheless it
is possible that afterwards, in the absence of the Judge and not at the time or in the place of
torture, they may be able to weep in the presence of their gaolers.
And as for the reason for a witch’s inability to weep, it can be said that the grace of
tears is one of the chief gifts allowed to the penitent; for S. Bernard tells us that the tears of
the humble can penetrate to heaven and conquer the unconquerable. Therefore there can be
no doubt that they are displeasing to the devil, and that he uses all his endeavour to restrain
them, to prevent a witch from finally attaining to penitence.
But it may be objected that it might suit with the devil’s cunning, with God’s
permission, to allow even a witch to weep; since tearful grieving, weaving and deceiving are
said to be proper to women. We may answer that in this case, since the judgements of God
are a mystery, if there is no other way of convicting the accused, by legitimate witnesses or
the evidence of the fact, and if she is not under a strong or grave suspicion, she is to be
discharged; but because she rests under a slight suspicion by reason of her reputation to
which the witnesses have testified, she must be required to abjure the heresy of witchcraft,
as we shall show when we deal with the second method of pronouncing sentence.
The third precaution to be observed in this tenth action is that the hair should be shaved
from every part of her body. The reason for this is the same as that for stripping her of her
clothes, which we have already mentioned; for in order to preserve their power of silence
they are in the habit of hiding some superstitious object in their clothes or in their hair, or
even in the most secret parts of the their bodies which must not be named.
But it may be objected that the devil might, without the use of such charms, so harden
the heart of a witch that she is unable to confess her crimes; just as it is often found in the
case of other criminals, no matter how great the tortures to which they are exposed, or how
much they are convicted by the evidence of the facts and of witnesses. We answer that it is
true that the devil can affect such taciturnity without the use of such charms; but he prefers
to use them for the perdition of souls and the greater offence to the Divine Majesty of God.
This can be made clear from the example of a certain witch in the town of Hagenau,
whom we have mentioned in the Second Part of this work. She used to obtain this gift of
silence in the following manner: she killed a newly-born first-born male child who had not
been baptized, and having roasted it in an oven together with other matters which it is not
expedient to mention, ground it to powder and ashes; and if any witch or criminal carried
about him some of this substance he would in no way be able to confess his crimes.
Here it is clear that a hundred thousand children so employed could not of their own
virtue endow a person with such a power of keeping silence; but any intelligent person can
understand that such means are used by the devil for the perdition of souls and to offend the
TheWife of Bath’s Tale
from The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer, translated by Nevill Coghill
The Pardoner started up, and thereupon
“Madam,” he said, “by God and by St. John,
That’s noble preaching no one could surpass!
I was about to take a wife; alas!
5 Am I to buy it on my flesh so dear?
There’ll be no marrying for me this year!”
“You wait,” she said, “my story’s not begun.
You’ll taste another brew before I’ve done;
You’ll find it doesn’t taste as good as ale;
10 And when I’ve finished telling you my tale
Of tribulation in the married life
In which I’ve been an expert as a wife,
That is to say, myself have been the whip.
So please yourself whether you want to sip
15 At that same cask of marriage I shall broach.
Be cautious before making the approach,
For I’ll give instances, and more than ten.
And those who won’t be warned by other men,
By other men shall suffer their correction,
20 So Ptolemy has said, in this connection.
You read his Almagest; you’ll find it there.”
“Madam, I put it to you as a prayer,”
The Pardoner said, “go on as you began!
Tell us your tale, spare not for any man.
25 Instruct us younger men in your technique.”
“Gladly,” she said, “if you will let me speak,
But still I hope the company won’t reprove me
Though I should speak as fantasy may move me,
And please don’t be offended at my views;
30 They’re really only offered to amuse.
When good King Arthur ruled in ancient days
(A king that every Briton loves to praise)
This was a land brim-full of fairy folk.
The Elf-Queen and her courtiers joined and broke
35 Their elfin dance on many a green mead,
Or so was the opinion once, I read,
Hundreds of years ago, in days of yore.
But no one now sees fairies any more.
For now the saintly charity and prayer
40 Of holy friars seem to have purged the air;
They search the countryside through field and stream
As thick as motes that speckle a sun-beam,
Blessing the halls, the chambers, kitchens, bowers,
Cities and boroughs, castles, courts and towers,
45 Thorpes, barns and stables, outhouses and dairies,
And that’s the reason why there are no fairies.
Wherever there was wont to walk an elf
To-day there walks the holy friar himself
As evening falls or when the daylight springs,
50 Saying his matins and his holy things,
Walking his limit round from town to town.
Women can now go safely up and down
By every bush or under every tree;
There is no other incubus but he,
55 So there is really no one else to hurt you
And he will do no more than take your virtue.
Now it so happened, I began to say,
Long, long ago in good King Arthur’s day,
There was a knight who was a lusty liver.
60 One day as he came riding from the river
He saw a maiden walking all forlorn
Ahead of him, alone as she was born.
And of that maiden, spite of all she said,
By very force he took her maidenhead.
65 This act of violence made such a stir,
So much petitioning to the king for her,
That he condemned the knight to lose his head
By course of law. He was as good as dead
(It seems that then the statutes took that view)
70 But that the queen, and other ladies too,
Implored the king to exercise his grace
So ceaselessly, he gave the queen the case
And granted her his life, and she could choose
Whether to show him mercy or refuse.
75 The queen returned him thanks with all her might,
And then she sent a summons to the knight
At her convenience, and expressed her will:
“You stand, for such is the position still,
In no way certain of your life,” said she,
80 “Yet you shall live if you can answer me:
What is the thing that women most desire?
Beware the axe and say as I require.
“If you can’t answer on the moment, though,
I will concede you this: You are to go
85 A twelvemonth and a day to seek and learn
Sufficient answer, then you shall return.
I shall take gages from you to extort
Surrender of your body to the court.”
Sad was the knight and sorrowfully sighed,
90 But there! All other choices were denied,
And in the end he chose to go away
And to return after a year and day
Armed with such answer as there might be sent
To him by God. He took his leave and went.
95 He knocked at every house, searched every place,
Yes, anywhere that offered hope of grace.
What could it be that women wanted most?
But all the same he never touched a coast,
Country, or town in which there seemed to be
100 Any two people willing to agree.
Some said that women wanted wealth and treasure,
“Honor,” said some, some “Jollity and pleasure,”
Some “Gorgeous clothes” and others “Fun in bed,”
“To be oft widowed and remarried,” said
105 Others again, and some that what most mattered
Was that we should be cossetted and flattered.
That’s very near the truth, it seems to me;
A man can win us best with flattery.
To dance attendance on us, make a fuss,
110 Ensnares us all, the best and worst of us.
Some say the things we most desire are these:
Freedom to do exactly as we please,
With no one to reprove our faults and lies,
Rather to have one call us good and wise.
115 Truly there’s not a woman in ten score
Who has a fault, and someone rubs the sore,
But she will kick if what he says is true;
You try it out and you will find so too.
However vicious we may be within
120 We like to be thought wise and void of sin.
Others assert we women find it sweet
When we are thought dependable, discreet
And secret, firm of purpose and controlled,
Never betraying things that we are told.
125 But that’s not worth the handle of a rake;
Women conceal a thing? For Heaven’s sake!
Remember Midas? Will you hear the tale?
Among some other little things, now stale,
Ovid relates that under his long hair
130 The unhappy Midas grew a splendid pair
Of ass’s ears; as subtly as he might,
He kept his foul deformity from sight;
Save for his wife, there was not one that knew.
He loved her best, and trusted in her too.
135 He begged her not to tell a living creature
That he possessed so horrible a feature.
And she—she swore, were all the world to win,
She would not do such villainy and sin
As saddle her husband with so foul a name;
140 Besides to speak would be to share the shame.
Nevertheless she thought she would have died
Keeping this secret bottled up inside;
It seemed to swell her heart and she, no doubt,
Thought it was on the point of bursting out.
Fearing to speak of it to woman or man,
Down to a reedy marsh she quickly ran
And reached the sedge. Her heart was all on fire
And, as a bittern bumbles in the mire,
She whispered to the water, near the ground,
150 “Betray me not, O water, with thy sound!
To thee alone I tell it: It appears
My husband has a pair of ass’s ears!
Ah! My heart’s well again, the secret’s out!
I could no longer keep it, not a doubt.”
155 And so you see, although we may hold fast
A little while, it must come out at last,
We can’t keep secrets; as for Midas, well,
Read Ovid for his story; he will tell.
This knight that I am telling you about
160 Perceived at last he never would find out
What it could be that women loved the best.
Faint was the soul within his sorrowful breast,
As home he went, he dared no longer stay;
His year was up and now it was the day.
165 As he rode home in a dejected mood
Suddenly, at the margin of a wood,
He saw a dance upon the leafy floor
Of four and twenty ladies, nay, and more.
Eagerly he approached, in hope to learn
170 Some words of wisdom ere he should return;
But lo! Before he came to where they were,
Dancers and dance all vanished into air!
There wasn’t a living creature to be seen
Save one old woman crouched upon the green.
175 A fouler-looking creature I suppose
Could scarcely be imagined. She arose
And said, “Sir knight, there’s no way on from here.
Tell me what you are looking for, my dear,
For peradventure that were best for you;
180 We old, old women know a thing or two.”
“Dear Mother,” said the knight, “alack the day!
I am as good as dead if I can’t say
What thing it is that women most desire;
If you could tell me I would pay your hire.”
185 “Give me your hand,” she said, “and swear to do
Whatever I shall next require of you
—If so to do should lie within your might—
And you shall know the answer before night.”
“Upon my honor,” he answered, “I agree.”
190 “Then,” said the crone, “I dare to guarantee
Your life is safe; I shall make good my claim.
Upon my life the queen will say the same.
Show me the very proudest of them all
In costly coverchief or jeweled caul
195 That dare say no to what I have to teach.
Let us go forward without further speech.”
And then she crooned her gospel in his ear
And told him to be glad and not to fear.
They came to court. This knight, in full array,
200 Stood forth and said, “O Queen, I’ve kept my day
And kept my word and have my answer ready.”
There sat the noble matrons and the heady
Young girls, and widows too, that have the grace
Of wisdom, all assembled in that place,
205 And there the queen herself was throned to hear
And judge his answer. Then the knight drew near
And silence was commanded through the hall.
The queen gave order he should tell them all
What thing it was that women wanted most.
210 He stood not silent like a beast or post,
But gave his answer with the ringing word
Of a man’s voice and the assembly heard:
“My liege and lady, in general,” said he,
“A woman wants the self-same sovereignty
215 Over her husband as over her lover,
And master him; he must not be above her.
That is your greatest wish, whether you kill
Or spare me; please yourself. I wait your will.”
In all the court not one that shook her head
220 Or contradicted what the knight had said;
Maid, wife, and widow cried, “He’s saved his life!”
And on the word up started the old wife,
The one the knight saw sitting on the green,
And cried, “Your mercy, sovereign lady queen!
225 Before the court disperses, do me right!
’Twas I who taught this answer to the knight,
For which he swore, and pledged his honor to it,
That the first thing I asked of him he’d do it,
So far as it should lie within his might.
230 Before this court I ask you then, sir knight,
To keep your word and take me for your wife;
For well you know that I have saved your life.
If this be false, deny it on your sword!”
“Alas!” he said, “Old lady, by the Lord
235 I know indeed that such was my behest,
But for God’s love think of a new request,
Take all my goods, but leave my body free.”
“A curse on us,” she said, “if I agree!
I may be foul, I may be poor and old,
240 Yet will not choose to be, for all the gold
That’s bedded in the earth or lies above,
Less than your wife, nay, than your very love!”
“My love?” said he. “By heaven, my damnation!
Alas that any of my race and station
245 Should ever make so foul a misalliance!”
Yet in the end his pleading and defiance
All went for nothing, he was forced to wed.
He takes his ancient wife and goes to bed.
Now peradventure some may well suspect
250 A lack of care in me since I neglect
To tell of the rejoicings and display
Made at the feast upon their wedding-day.
I have but a short answer to let fall;
I say there was no joy or feast at all,
255 Nothing but heaviness of heart and sorrow.
He married her in private on the morrow
And all day long stayed hidden like an owl,
It was such torture that his wife looked foul.
Great was the anguish churning in his head
260 When he and she were piloted to bed;
He wallowed back and forth in desperate style.
His ancient wife lay smiling all the while;
At last she said “Bless us! Is this, my dear,
How knights and wives get on together here?
265 Are these the laws of good King Arthur’s house?
Are knights of his all so contemptuous?
I am your own beloved and your wife,
And I am she, indeed, that saved your life;
And certainly I never did you wrong.
270 Then why, this first of nights, so sad a song?
You’re carrying on as if you were half-witted
Say, for God’s love, what sin have I committed?
I’ll put things right if you will tell me how.”
“Put right?” he cried. “That never can be now!
275 Nothing can ever be put right again!
You’re old, and so abominably plain,
So poor to start with, so low-bred to follow;
It’s little wonder if I twist and wallow!
God, that my heart would burst within my breast!”
280 “Is that,” said she, “the cause of your unrest?”
“Yes, certainly,” he said, “and can you wonder?”
“I could set right what you suppose a blunder,
That’s if I cared to, in a day or two,
If I were shown more courtesy by you.
285 Just now,” she said, “you spoke of gentle birth,
Such as descends from ancient wealth and worth.
If that’s the claim you make for gentlemen
Such arrogance is hardly worth a hen.
Whoever loves to work for virtuous ends,
290 Public and private, and who most intends
To do what deeds of gentleness he can,
Take him to be the greatest gentleman.
Christ wills we take our gentleness from Him,
Not from a wealth of ancestry long dim,
295 Though they bequeath their whole establishment
By which we claim to be of high descent.
Our fathers cannot make us a bequest
Of all those virtues that became them best
And earned for them the name of gentlemen,
300 But bade us follow them as best we can.
“Thus the wise poet of the Florentines,
Dante by name, has written in these lines,
For such is the opinion Dante launches:
‘Seldom arises by these slender branches
305 Prowess of men, for it is God, no less,
Wills us to claim of Him our gentleness.’
For of our parents nothing can we claim
Save temporal things, and these may hurt and maim.
“But everyone knows this as well as I;
310 For if gentility were implanted by
The natural course of lineage down the line,
Public or private, could it cease to shine
In doing the fair work of gentle deed?
No vice or villainy could then bear seed.
315 “Take fire and carry it to the darkest house
Between this kingdom and the Caucasus,
And shut the doors on it and leave it there,
It will burn on, and it will burn as fair
As if ten thousand men were there to see,
320 For fire will keep its nature and degree,
I can assure you, sir, until it dies.
“But gentleness, as you will recognize,
Is not annexed in nature to possessions.
Men fail in living up to their professions;
325 But fire never ceases to be fire.
God knows you’ll often find, if you inquire,
Some lording full of villainy and shame.
If you would be esteemed for the mere name
Of having been by birth a gentleman
330 And stemming from some virtuous, noble clan,
And do not live yourself by gentle deed
Or take your father’s noble code and creed,
You are no gentleman, though duke or earl.
Vice and bad manners are what make a churl.
335 “Gentility is only the renown
For bounty that your fathers handed down,
Quite foreign to your person, not your own;
Gentility must come from God alone.
That we are gentle comes to us by grace
340 And by no means is it bequeathed with place.
“Reflect how noble (says Valerius)
Was Tullius surnamed Hostilius,
Who rose from poverty to nobleness.
And read Boethius, Seneca no less,
345 Thus they express themselves and are agreed:
‘Gentle is he that does a gentle deed.’
And therefore, my dear husband, I conclude
That even if my ancestors were rude,
Yet God on high—and so I hope He will—
350 Can grant me grace to live in virtue still,
A gentlewoman only when beginning
To live in virtue and to shrink from sinning.
“As for my poverty which you reprove,
Almighty God Himself in whom we move,
355 Believe, and have our being, chose a life
Of poverty, and every man or wife
Nay, every child can see our Heavenly King
Would never stoop to choose a shameful thing.
No shame in poverty if the heart is gay,
360 As Seneca and all the learned say.
He who accepts his poverty unhurt
I’d say is rich although he lacked a shirt.
But truly poor are they who whine and fret
And covet what they cannot hope to get.
365 And he that, having nothing, covets not,
Is rich, though you may think he is a sot.
“True poverty can find a song to sing.
Juvenal says a pleasant little thing:
‘The poor can dance and sing in the relief
370 Of having nothing that will tempt a thief.’
Though it be hateful, poverty is good,
A great incentive to a livelihood,
And a great help to our capacity
For wisdom, if accepted patiently.
375 Poverty is, though wanting in estate,
A kind of wealth that none calumniate.
Poverty often, when the heart is lowly,
Brings one to God and teaches what is holy,
Gives knowledge of oneself and even lends
380 A glass by which to see one’s truest friends.
And since it’s no offense, let me be plain;
Do not rebuke my poverty again.
“Lastly you taxed me, sir, with being old.
Yet even if you never had been told
385 By ancient books, you gentlemen engage
Yourselves in honor to respect old age.
To call an old man ‘father’ shows good breeding,
And this could be supported from my reading.
“You say I’m old and fouler than a fen.
390 You need not fear to be a cuckold, then.
Filth and old age, I’m sure you will agree,
Are powerful wardens over chastity.
Nevertheless, well knowing your delights,
I shall fulfill your worldly appetites.
395 “You have two choices; which one will you try?
To have me old and ugly till I die,
But still a loyal, true, and humble wife
That never will displease you all her life,
Or would you rather I were young and pretty
400 And chance your arm what happens in a city
Where friends will visit you because of me,
Yes, and in other places too, maybe.
Which would you have? The choice is all your own.”
The knight thought long, and with a piteous groan
405 At last he said, with all the care in life,
“My lady and my love, my dearest wife,
I leave the matter to your wise decision.
You make the choice yourself, for the provision
Of what may be agreeable and rich
410 In honor to us both, I don’t care which;
Whatever pleases you suffices me.”
“And have I won the mastery?” said she,
“Since I’m to choose and rule as I think fit?”
“Certainly, wife,” he answered her, “that’s it.”
415 “Kiss me,” she cried. “No quarrels! On my oath
And word of honor, you shall find me both,
That is, both fair and faithful as a wife;
May I go howling mad and take my life
Unless I prove to be as good and true
420 As ever wife was since the world was new!
And if to-morrow when the sun’s above
I seem less fair than any lady-love,
Than any queen or empress east or west,
Do with my life and death as you think best.
425 Cast up the curtain, husband. Look at me!”
And when indeed the knight had looked to see,
Lo, she was young and lovely, rich in charms.
In ecstasy he caught her in his arms,
His heart went bathing in a bath of blisses
430 And melted in a hundred thousand kisses,
And she responded in the fullest measure
With all that could delight or give him pleasure.
So they lived ever after to the end
In perfect bliss; and may Christ Jesus send
435 Us husbands meek and young and fresh in bed,
And grace to overbid them when we wed.
And—Jesu hear my prayer!—cut short the lives
Of those who won’t be governed by their wives;
And all old, angry niggards of their pence,
440 God send them soon a very pestilence!
Academic Writing Pet Peeves!
· Short story and poem titles go in quotation marks.
· “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe
· “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
· Book and Play titles go in italics.
· Moby Dick by Herman Melville
· Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
· The Title of Your Paper
· Should not just be the title of the work you’re writing about!
· A bad title: “The Raven”
· A good title: Analyzing Rhyme in Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”
· Should not be in quotation marks or underlined
· See above. The only thing in quotation marks should be titles of other people’s works.
· All quotations MUST BE INTRODUCED! Do not ever start a sentence with a quotation.
· A bad example:
· “Feminism is an important component of Glaspell’s writing” (Jones 27).
· A good example:
· In James Jones’ essay “Susan Glaspell Uncovered,” he notes that, “Feminism is an important component of Glaspell’s writing” (27).
· Never begin or end a paragraph with a quotation.
· Paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence.
· All quotes should be explained afterward.
· Any time you write about literature, you should be writing in the present tense. For example, we would say, “Hamlet struggles with the death of his father” rather than “Hamlet struggled with the death of his father.”
· Action that happens before the beginning of the story or play may be put in past tense.
· Refer to the author by his or her first name. You are not friends. Last names only. (The first time you mention an author, you may use first and last name. After that, last names are all you need.)
· Use first or second person (no “I” or “You”)
· Use contractions or abbreviations
· Make announcements in your paper: (“In this paper I will discuss…” “This paper is about…” “My reasons are…”)
· Introduce the full name of the text(s) and author(s) at some point in your introductory paragraph. Your title is not enough.
· Head, format, double-space, and type your paper in Times New Roman size 12
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