Show MoreSummary and Analysis of The Nun's Priest's Tale (The Canterbury Tales)
Prologue to the Nun's Priest's Tale:
The Knight interrupts the Monk's Tale, for as a man who has reached a certain estate, he does not like to hear tales of a man's fall from grace. He would rather hear of men who rise in esteem and status. The Host refuses to allow the Monk to continue, instead telling the Nun's Priest to tell his tale.
The Nun's Priest's Tale:
The Nun's Priest tells a tale of an old woman who had a small farm in which she kept animals, including a rooster named Chanticleer who was peerless in his crowing. Chanticleer had seven hens as his companions, the most honored of which was Pertelote. One night Chanticleer groaned in his sleep. He…show more content…
It conforms to the personality of its narrator; the Nun's Priest is pious, yet robust and masculine. The tale, even though it has animals as its main characters, seems more adult than a conventional and simplistic tale by the Prioress.
With the possible exception of Arviragus and Dorigen in the Franklin's Tale, there is no more stable and robust 'marriage' between two characters in the Canterbury Tales than that between Chanticleer and Pertelote. The two fowl have a fulfilling sexual relationship, as Chaucer indicates when he writes that Chanticleer 'feathers' Pertelote several times during a night, yet the sex occurs as an end to itself, a stark contrast with the sexual transactions that occur in the more dramatic tales, and occurs out of some genuine emotion in contrast to the lustful encounters in Chaucer's fabliaux. The main characters are animals to be sure, yet have behaviors that are far from animalistic.
Beyond the sexual nature of their relationship, the interplay between Chanticleer and Pertelote reveals a sharp wit and depth of emotion. The two behave as would a normal married couple. They bicker, flatter, and advise each another, never at the other's expense. Chanticleer is stubborn but does relent to Pertelote's rationality, but when he does he gets one final joke on her. He claims to tell her that "woman is man's delight and bliss" in Latin,
Essay on “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”: An Analysis
2247 Words9 Pages
The “General Prologue” provides us with no evidence as to the character of the Nun’s Priest. Only in the prologue to his tale do we finally get a glimpse of who he might be, albeit rather obtusely. As Harry Bailey rather disparagingly remarks: “Telle us swich thyng as may oure hertes glade./Be blithe, though thou ryde upon a jade” (p.235, ll2811-2812). I say this cautiously because much criticism has surrounded the supposed character of the Nun’s Priest, his role in the tale, and his relationship to the Canterbury Tales as a whole. One example, in my opinion, of an unsatisfactory reading is exemplified by Arthur Broes’s 1963 article “Chaucer’s Disgruntled Cleric: The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” Broes argues that the Nun’s Priest is an “erudite…show more content…
So we may dismiss him without ceremony, and imagine ourselves face to face with Chaucer; his is the all-pervading geniality and sly elvish humour of this sparkling tale” (Pearsall 39). Personally, I find this position to be almost as far-fetched as that of Broes. We have seen, quite consistently, throughout the various tales that Chaucer plays an intricate, even slightly devilish, game of hide and seek with the reader. No single character can be said to represent Chaucer, just as Chaucer never completely enters the psyche of his creations. In fact, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Of course, it is curious that we know so little about the Nun’s Priest. However, perhaps we might conjecture that this vagueness is a deliberate strategy. In other words, because we know so little about the Nun’s Priest, our ability to enter into the realm of the tale is unclouded by our preconceptions, or misconceptions, of this pilgrim. Too often, we have a tendency to judge the tale based on our liking or disliking of the particular pilgrim whose portrait remains indelibly printed on our impressionable minds. By withholding the portrait, Chaucer affords us a chance to really read the tale. Indeed, if we are to speculate at all, then we might be tempted to identify with this anonymous “Sir John” who is seemingly mocked, albeit gently, even by Chaucer: “And right anon his tale hath he attamed,/And thus he seyde unto us everichon,/This sweete preest, this goodly