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The Nun- Canterbury Tales
Transcript of The Nun- Canterbury Tales
-a sweet, thorny shrub
-Contradiction (like the Nun)
-Madame Eglantyne: She was brought to the nunnery when she was very young. This was a common practice in the 15th century but was only done by aristocracy and people of means. She spent roughly ten to twelve years as a nun before she was chosen as the Prioress. Rosa rubiginosa or Eglantine Rose The Nun as a character does not act as a nun would during this time period. Chaucer emphasizes her basic femininity, rather than her spiritual qualities. She is far from the perfect image of a nun and can be described as worldly, rather than religious. Her actions contradict her title and are opposite to the actions she should be making. The Eglantine Rose means "a wound to heal". She does not fit into the position of a nun. Her parents are the ones that most likely made her join the nunnery at a young age. She fails to possess the qualities necessary to be a good example of a nun. The wound that she may be attempting to heal is that of her position as prioress when she shows no interest in the position. And well she sang a service, with a fine Intoning through her nose, as was most seemly, And she spoke daintily in French, extremely, After the school of Stratford-atte-Bowe; French in the Paris style she did not know. -She had funny habits such as singing through her nose and speaking improper French. Stratford-atte-Bowe: Benedictine convent near London where inferior French was spoken, There was no real need for anyone in England to speak French in 1387 so the language was probably cultivated at St. Leonard's because of its former aristocratic associations -She is well mannered and dainty.
-She tries hard to seem courtly, when she is not. At meat her manners were well taught withal; No morsel from her lips did she let fall, Nor dipped her fingers in the sauce too deep; But she could carry a morsel up and keep The smallest drop from falling on her breast. For courtliness she had a special zest, And she would wipe her upper lip so clean That not a trace of grease was to be seen. Upon the cup when she had drunk; to eat, She reached a hand sedately for the meat. She certainly was very entertaining, Pleasant and friendly in her ways, and straining To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace, A stately bearing fitting to her place, And to seem dignified in all her dealings. As for her sympathies and tender feelings, She was so charitably solicitous. She used to weep if she but saw a mouse Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bleeding. And she had little dogs she would be feeding With roasted flesh, or milk, or fine white bread. And bitterly she wept if one were dead Or someone took a stick and made it smart; She was all sentiment and tender heart. -When she sees a mouse caught in a trap, she weeps, perhaps believing that this is how a damsel of the court would behave. Two lines later we learn that she has no problem feeding her dogs flesh, so her weeping over the trapped mouse is probably, like most of her habits, an affectation – a behavior the Prioress adopts to seem a certain way (in this case, like a courtly damsel), but which doesn't really reveal her true feelings. Her veil was gathered in a seemly way, Her nose was elegant, her eyes glass-grey; Her mouth was very small, but soft and red, Her forehead, certainly, was fair of spread, Almost a span across the brows, I own; She was indeed by no means undergrown. Her cloak, I noticed, had a graceful charm. -There are some excellent records about her and the nunnery because the local bishop would make regular stops and record all of the various issues and complaints both from Eglantyne and the nuns. In many cases these records of visits span hundreds of years, and are all carefully recorded.
-A nunnery in this time period was not the same as it was in centuries before. The bishops records tell us a lot about Eglantyne and how the nunneries were run. Eglantyne was praised for her courtly manner but was distinctly criticized for her difficulty in running the business.
-She had many responsibilities which included all the things we can today consider, such as discipline of the residents, repair and upkeep of the buildings and grounds, and interacting with vendors, sales people, farmers and other various individuals. It was a big job and the bishop eventually decided to take these decisions out of her hands solely, and place the financial decisions in the hands of three of them. She would work with two other nuns to make these decisions.
Madame Eglantyne -She was a larger woman. Acting dainty seems challenging and somewhat foolish for her.
-She had the appearance of someone elegant. Her actions and true feelings did not match her elegant appearance. She wore a coral trinket on her arm, A set of beads, the gaudies tricked in green, Whence hung a golden brooch of brightest sheen On which there first was graven a crowned A, And lower, Amor vincit omnia. span: nine inches, supposed to be the distance between the extended thumb and little finger The Coral: In the Middle Ages, coral was a defense against worldly temptations, but it was also a love charm. The Romans believed coral could protect children from harm, as well as cure wounds made by snakes and scorpions and diagnose diseases by changing color. Set of green beads: Beads are rosary, or a set of prayer beads and a crucifix on a string or chain. Every eleventh bead is a gaud, a large bead indicating when the Lord's prayer is to be said. The beads and the pendant are interesting because this prioress, or nun who is in charge of a convent, is expected to be carrying rosary beads with a crucifix on the end. She is carrying vanity beads instead. The pendant, which could refer to God's love, in her case more probably refers to the courtly love between a damsel and hero in one of the romances that were popular reading material for women of this time period. Amor vincit omnia: Latin for "Love conquers all" Why do you think she carries the coral? To remind her of something? Do you think she is coy as in shy, or that she is insincere? Why? Why do you think Chaucer included this section on her funny habits or quirks? SOURCES http://medieval.stormthecastle.com/essays/medieval-women.htm
Elements of Style and Poetry Diction: Chaucer chooses words that have stronger connotations than denotations. Many symbols or alternate meanings are found behind his words. For example, the word coy is used. Coy means shy, but in this context, it means insincere. Figurative Language: In the third line, Chaucer alludes to St. Loy. When describing her appearance, many symbols are used such as the coral. Chaucer exaggerates slightly when he says "Almost a span across the brows." A span represents nine inches which is a large distance, and may be somewhat unrealistic. Imagery: Imagery is used frequently when describing the nun. Chaucer gives a vivid description of her behavior while she is eating, creating a visual. He also uses imagery when speaking of the mouse and when describing her appearance. Through imagery, Chaucer paints a picture of the nun's behaviors and her appearance. Syntax: Every two lines create one sentence or complete thought throughout the section. Simple sentences are used, but have deeper meanings behind them. The majority of the lines begin with a pronoun or short starting word such as "and or on." Tone/Mood: The tone/mood of the section is informational and explanatory. Rhyme: With the exception of the first line, every two lines have end rhyme. The rhyme scheme is- aabbccddeeffgg... and so on. Meter: Each line contains iambic pentameter. This means that every line consists of five iambic feet with the same stress on alternating syllables. Sound: This section of the prologue has end rhyme creating a sing-songy sound. The section flows well and is consistent with iambic pentamter throughout.