The Nun's Priest's Tale in the Canterbury Tales Essay
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Chaucer's "The Nun's Priest's Tale" is at once a fable, a tale of courtly love, and a satire mocking fables and courtly love traditions. To this end, Chaucer makes use of several stylistic techniques involving both framing and content. The tale begins and ends with "a poor widwe somdeel stape in age" (line 1), but the majority of the content involves not the widow but the animals on her farm, in particular an arrogant rooster name Chauntecleer. The first mention of the main character does not come until the twenty-ninth line, after twenty-eight lines of minute description of the widow and the farm. The donation of large amounts of time to detail slows down the plot of the story; this plot is even further drawn out by the Nun's Priest's…show more content…
Chaucer effectively mocks the courtly love tradition by pointing out that the characteristics of courtly love can be injected into even the most commonplace of situations. Chauntecleer, while described in heroic language, is merely a rooster out to survive, and mate. Chauntecleer is no more heroic than any other rooster on any other farm; language merely manipulates this particular rooster to inflate him to heroic heights. The narrative interjections only further Chaucer's satire. The Nun's Priest interjects, in very lofty and dramatic tones, during central moments in plot advancement. The interruptions come in very traditional and noble language: O false mordrour, luring in thy den! O newe Scariot! Newe Geniloun! False dissimilour! O greek Sinoun, That broughtest Troye al outrely to sorwe! O Chauntecleer, accursed be that morwe That thou into the yeerd flaugh fro the bemes! (Lines 406 - 411)
The high language of the digressions would make certain scenes, such as the one where the fox hides in the cabbages to await Chauntecleer, much more dramatic and suspenseful if not for their length and content. The noble language draws on and on oftentimes for fifty lines before returning to the plot, which only allows the reader time to remember that the drama taking place on the page is merely barnyard drama, and therefore no more dramatic than the
Chaucer: The Nun's Priests Tale Essay
"Chaucer offers a positive view of medieval life"/ Chaucer's view of medieval life is peppered with criticisms and negative perceptions of the daily routine"
Chaucer's view of medieval life was peppered with criticism and negative perceptions of the daily routine. Through the use of a fictional narrator Chaucer is able to tackle diverse topics such as politics and criticise human vices such as gluttony and pride. The use of a beast fable allows Chaucer to openly voice his criticisms of medieval life under the disguise of animals. He satirically mocks flaws in the church and in doing so introduces the theme of rich and poor.
Right from the opening prologue we are made to realise that the priest although a religious figure is presented in a lowly way as his horse is described as 'a jade' and as 'foul and lene,' whilst the monk is described as to have 'belles that on youre bridel hange on every side.' It suggests that Chaucer is criticising the state of the convent stables and so indirectly the state of the church.
The contrast of these two characters is also important. The monk whilst rich seems far from god as he has bells along his saddle and so it can be concluded that he is vain as he is only interested in outward appearance. Yet the priests' horse is in a poor state and yet he seems perfectly contented. This introduces the theme of rich and poor which is a reoccurring theme in the poem.
Chaucer helps to emphasise the gap between rich and poor with his use of vocabulary. A 'bour' and 'halle' are parts of a castle which are associated with rich and noble people, yet Chaucer satirically uses them in his description of the poor widow. The widow leads a dignified and hardworking life which results in a means of livelihood but cannot provide excess of wealth. Critics suggest that the effects of these descriptions are not one of harshness and ugliness but a want of graciousness and beauty. Contrary to this the Prioress and monk only seem interested in how they look and falsely and vainly try to act gracious. Critics suggest that Chaucer by contrasting them in this way is criticising the state of the church as it was the only way that a poor woman could lead a good life as they did not have a dowry.
It is also a criticism of the medieval ways of the rich, as some critics suggest that although the widow lives in a 'povre estaat' she is healthy, content and where she wants to be, whereas Pertelote is discontented with a coward of a husband. 'I kan nat love a coward, by my feith.' This suggest that characters such as Pertelote and the Prioress and even the monk, are far from god as they are discontented with their life and strive for material things and outward appearances (vanity) are all that is...
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