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Canterbury Tales- The Nuns Priest's Tale

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Cory Walters

on 12 March 2013

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Transcript of Canterbury Tales- The Nuns Priest's Tale

The Nuns Priest's Tale And Our Setting: Plot Summary Major Characters Conflicts Quotes Themes Author's Style Questions and Answers Modern World Connection Some examples: King Croesus of Lydia had a dream that he sat in a tree, and this meant that he would be hanged. Andromache, the wife of the Hector a warrior prince of ancient Troy, had a dream the night before he died. She dreamt that he would die in a battle with the Greeks. She begged him not to fight, but he wouldn't listen. He was later killed by the sword of Achilles. A widow lives on some farmland with her two daughters. Some of the possessions that she owns include three sows, three cows, a sheep, and several chickens. She also has one rooster, named Chauntecleer, and he is known as the best rooster with the most beautiful singing voice. He has many hen-wives, but his true love is with a hen named Pertelote. One night, Chauntecleer has a nightmare about an orange beast that threatens to kill him out in the yard. He turns to Pertelote out of concern and she ends up telling him that dreams are nothing to worry about. He then goes on to tell her stories of men who had dreams about their death, which ultimately came to pass. One night a fox appears and watches Chauntecleer and his hen-wives, but doesn’t make a move. The next day the fox, named Russel, comes up to Chauntecleer and tells him not to be afraid. Russel then flatters Chauntecleer about his singing which in return makes him sing for him. While he’s singing, the fox grabs Chauntecleer by the throat and runs away. The widow and her daughters hear wailing from the hen-house and go outside to see what was going on. When they come outside they see the fox running away with the rooster in his mouth. Chauntecleer tells the fox to turn around and boast about his prize. Russel goes to do this, and when he opens his mouth, Chauntecleer escapes and flies into a tree. The fox tries to win over the rooster once again, but this time Chauntecleer has learned his lesson. He goes on to tell the fox how flattery will no longer work on him. Chauntecleer-
A rooster, is described as being the old widow’s prized cock and is the protagonist of the story. He is described as being a rooster without peer due to his reliability and the strength of his call. Physically, he is described as having a jet black beak, a comb redder than fine coral, plumage like the color of burnt gold, blue legs and toes, and nails whiter than a lily. Russel –
A fox, is described as being the same fox that killed Chauntecleer’s parents and is the antagonist of the story. Physically, he is described as having black markings and a coat with a coloration somewhere between yellow and red. Additionally, he is both cunning and dangerous. Pertelote-
A hen, is described as being the favorite of Chauntecleer’s wives and is his primary companion. Physically, she is described as being the fairest of all the hens. She is a minor character and serves no real role with regards to plot structure other than companionship . This story is told as a beast fable, and is done so using a rhyme scheme at the end of almost every line. Chauncer uses anthropomorphism as a device within the tale as is evidenced by the dialogue concerning moral and religious issues between animals. The language used to describe the story is extremely overcomplicated and dramatic and serves to give the tale more of a romantic tone and feel. Additionally this story is a parable, and as such is meant to teach the listener an important lesson or value. Man VS Man
There is more than one Man VS Man conflict present in the Nuns Priest’s Tale. First off and most obvious is the conflict between protagonist and antagonist, Chauntecleer and Russel. Conflict happens between these two characters because Russel, the fox, tries to steal and eat Chauntecleer, the rooster. The second comes from Chauntecleer arguing with is favorite wife Pertelote about the importance of dreams. Pertelote calls Chauntecleer a heartless coward because of his fear and caution about his dream, creating conflict between the two of them. Man VS Self
There is conflict within Chauntecleer about this dream that he has where a beast is chasing him. Working off of the conflict between Chauntecleer and Pertelote, Chauntecleer has had a nightmare and is very worried about it, but his favorite wife is calling him a coward, so he would be feeling a bit of inner fighting to believe the dream is a warning for the future, or to take heed of his wife’s words that there was something chemically wrong inside of him. 88- ““Avoi,” quod she, “fy on you, hertreless!”

157-159- “That al the revers sayn of his sentence, And han wel founden by experience That dremes been significataciouns.”

479-481- ““But for men speke of singing, I wol saye, so mote I brouke wel mine yen twaye, Save ye I herde nevere man to singe”

567- “And shouting of the men and women eke.”

606-612- ““Nay thane,” quod he, “I shrewe us both two: But I shrewe myself, both blood and bones, If thou bigile me ofter than ones; Thou shalt narore thurgh thy flaterye. Do me to singe and winken with myn ye. For he that winketh whan he shoulde see, Al willfully, God lat him nevere thee.”” Why is the widow and her family mentioned at the beginning important, why do it at all?
I think that mentioning the widow and her daughters gives a certain amount of sentimental attachment to Chauntecleer. By adding people familiar with him and who acknowledge his worth to the storyline, he is now more than just a rooster on a farm’, he is Chauntecleer, the beloved sun greeter. The addition of stating that the family is of meager means may also help convey the splendor of Chauntecleer. The Nun’s Priest talks about how Chauntecleer is better than a clock, and is a beautiful rooster, that helps give new chickens to the small family. Chauntecleer is incredibly valuable to the family, so when his life is in danger, the listener (or reader) feels a small amount of loss for the people as well as the animals. If Chauntecleer is so well educated, why is the fox able to trick him so easily?
Chauntecleer seems to be educated, in the way he is portrayed because of his argument about dreams, and his multiple examples of how people think dreams are true and useful. But then the fox comes along, and delivers an obvious lie, and Chauntecleer falls right into his trap. This is why I say Chauntecleer is very self-centered, he so enjoys being praised, he doesn’t take stock of a very real threat. Even the smartest people or animals can lack all common sense. What underlying gender role message is within the storyline?
A message of Wariness of the words of women is frequent throughout the story. The problems start as Chauntecleer's lover, Miss Pertelote, gives him the quick advice of manning up and disregarding the dream he had, or she'd lose all respect for him as a man. He soon counters with many biblical and historical references to what happens when either you adhere to advice to disregard a premonition, or ignore it themselves. He further goes on to further reference the reason Adam and eve were thrown out of the garden, because of Adam taking Eve's advice. The true underlying message of the tale is an overall taking a woman's advice will bring sorrow. Why would the Nun's Priest apologize within the story for Chauntecleer's words?
During the time that this was written, a lot of feminist literature was being published. In response to this, misogynist literature detailing and demanding the submission of women and the awareness of their dangers and temptations to men rose. To curb backlash from those who may take offense to the underlying message of the tale, the Priest inserts his own neutrality to stave off any attacks on his opinion on the matter, and pins all of the misogyny on the rooster. Why would Chauntecleer not heed his own very seemingly well-founded advice to heed his dream's warning?
Instead of heeding his dream, Chauntecleer corrects Pertelote on dreams, but dismisses it still and goes on with his life. In the beginning, when Pertelote first hears of his worries on his dream, she rebukes him harshly, saying she would not love a cock that trembled before a mere dream, nor could she walk after one that forgot that the Lord had blessed him in safety. She tells him she shall find some laxatives and herbs for him to take to calm him. He refuses the laxatives and defends his reaction to his dream, but then apologizes to Miss Pertelote and goes about his day. His seemed to insinuate that he would disregard Miss Pertelote's words and heed his dream, but instead he ignores it and goes on with life, until the fox comes. The one reason he could ignore his own strong advice is that he wants to please Miss Pertelote. His ego and his love for her are so great that he forgets his own intelligence. He refused to eat the herbs and laxatives, proving he still wanted to remain authoritative to Miss Pertelote, but in the end, he obeyed her request and forgot his concern. Our Narrator The narrator of the Nun’s Priest’s tale is the Nun’s Priest, the Priest responsible for attending the Prioress as she travels. As he is of the church, his tale seems to coincide with church doctrine that the advice of women should be ill regarded and is harmful and deceiving. He ties in the church to the tale by having Chauntecleer reply to his number one ‘wife’ a biblical verse of men who heeded their dreams and thus listened to God, and not subjugating themselves to the wishes of others who told them otherwise, such as Adam, who complied to Eve’s wish to eat the forbidden fruit and was thus barred from eternal peace and banished to the harsh world outside of God’s law and love. The barnyard of a widow and her family near the edge of the woods. Husband vs. Wife
In the text Chauntecleer and his favorite wife Pertelote had gotten into argument about how dreams could be either a sign of future events or just a fixation of the imagination. The story shows you how both the wife and husband challenged each other’s logic. While sharing their opinions about what dreams are they used quotes from different authors to support their argument. I believed this theme was important because it gave the story a twist and made you question your on knowledge about the subject. Man vs. Self
The main character Chauntecleer struggled throughout the story with sticking with his inner conscience. He was easily fooled at times and at one point it almost cost him his life. In the story Chanticleer ignored his dream (conscience) of an animal attack and he let his guard down. His attitude toward the dream had gotten him tricked by the fox Sir Russel. I felt this theme was important because it showed you that you should trust your inner self and don’t doubt yourself when you feel a person or situation is wrong. Common sense vs. Knowledge
Throughout the entire tale it seemed as if common sense and knowledge were in competition with each other. Characters in the story were challenged in some form. For example the husband and the wives disagreement with what dreams, Chauntecleer being tricked by the fox after he knew that something bad was going to happen, and the fox letting go of the hold that he had on Chauntecleer in order to talk to the other farm animals. Each one of these examples represent a way of how common sense and knowledge were used to either gain or lose during argument and situation. This theme was important because it helped see sometimes your gut feeling could be misleading and having facts about something could help a lot more or vice versa. In the modern world The Nuns Priest would be categorized as a bishop, monk or philosopher because he seemed very wise and knowledgeable. He used fables and parables to teach valuable lessons. If he were to pursue a career in the modern world he would become a preacher because he talks with wisdom and tries to help guide people in the right path in their lives. Taking what had happened between the rooster Chauntecleer and Russel the fox under consideration and the fox being able to manipulate the rooster. How does this conflict relate to worldly situations today?
In the story Chauntecleer was very boastful and naive when it came to him singing “crowing” and socializing with others. Chauntecleers egotistical character blinded him from seeing the truth, which in this case almost cost him his life. In today’s society we have people who tend to be very boastful this may lead to a lot of unfortunate events. For example the loss of respect, humility and love because they over estimate there abilities and they tend to think about themselves before others. A real world scenario of being too egotistical would be the conflict between Kanye West and Taylor Swift, when Kanye felt it was necessary to walk onto the stage and interrupt Taylor Swift’s award acceptance for best female video. After his actions there were some negative repercussions. People began to question his character and lost respect for him.
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