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The Clerk

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by

Mikaela Randolph

on 8 November 2013

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Transcript of The Clerk

Summary
The Oxford Cleric is a philosophical person that loves to learn about philosophy and likes to learn in general. The story he tells fits his character because in it the traditional role of women is exemplified and held to the highest esteem, and as a student of philosophy the Cleric studies ideals. This also shows that he likes to hold onto the ideals of what people should be very dearly and that he is an idealist.


Excerpts
"Deliver us from all our constant dread
And take yourself a wife, for High God's sake;
For if it so befell, which God forbid,
That by your death your noble line should break
And that a strange successor should come take
Your heritage, woe that we were alive!
Wherefore we pray you speedily to wive."
Their humble prayer and their so earnest cheer
Roused in the marquis' heart great sympathy.
"You'd have me," he replied, "my people dear,
Do what I've never yet thought necessary.
I have rejoiced in my fond liberty,
That men so seldom find in their marriage;
Where I was free, I must be in bondage.
"Nevertheless, I see your true intent,
And know there's always sense in what you say;
Wherefore of my free will, will I consent
To wed a wife, as soon as ever I may.
But whereas you have offered here today
To choose a wife for me, I you release
From that, and pray that you thereof will cease.
Amongst these humble folk there dwelt a man
Who was considered poorest of them all;
But the High God of Heaven sometimes can
Send His grace to a little ox's stall;
Janicula men did this poor man call.
A daughter had he, fair enough to sight;
Griselda was this young maid's name, the bright.
If one should speak of virtuous beauty,
Then was she of the fairest under sun;
Since fostered in dire poverty was she,
No lust luxurious in her heart had run;
More often from the well than from the tun
She drank, and since she would chaste virtue please,
She knew work well, but knew not idle ease.
But though this maiden tender was of age,
Yet in the breast of her virginity
There was enclosed a ripe and grave courage;
And in great reverence and charity
Her poor old father fed and fostered she;
A few sheep grazing in a field she kept,
For she would not be idle till she slept.
This marquis wondered ever more and more
Upon her patience; and indeed if he
Had not known truly in her years before
That she had loved her children perfectly,
He would have thought that out of subtlety
And malice, or from some urge more savage
She suffered this with calm face and courage.
But well he knew that, next himself, 'twas plain
She loved her children best in every wise.
But now to ask of women I am fain,
Whether these trials should not the man suffice?
What could an obdurate husband more devise
To prove her wifehood and her faithfulness,
And he continuing in his stubbornness?
But there are folk to such condition grown
That, when they do a certain purpose take,
They cannot quit the intent they thus own,
But just as they were bound unto a stake
They will not from that first hard purpose shake.
The Clerk
Summary Continued...
This story takes place in Italy and is about a marquis named Walter, who does not want to sacrifice his personal freedom by getting married, but after his subjects insist that he must get a wife in order to give his people comfort in having a royal family and an heir that can replace him when he dies, he consents. One day he decides to go search for a suitable wife when he discovers a poor woman named Griselda. Her father Janicula, was very poor, but Griselda was very beautiful and virtuous, so the marquis fell in love with her and married her (with Janicula's permission) on the condition that she must obey his will cheerfully, even if what he asks of her causes her pain. At a later point the marquis decided to test his wife's ability to keep her promise, by pretending to have ordered their two children killed at a space of four years apart, he obtained a false papal order divorcing her five years after their children's deaths, and he then had her prepare his fake marriage to another noble woman, which was actually her now twelve year old daughter in disguise. Griselda is hurt by these things, but does all that she is told dutifully and without complaint. After the marquis sees this he tells her that he lied about everything and proclaims her to be his one true wife. After this they lived long, happy lives and the marquis's son eventually inherited his father's throne, while the daughter married into another noble family.
Analyzing the Lines
"An Oxford Cleric, still a student though, one who had taken logic long ago, was there."
-Oxford Cleric: Peasant-born student that is more rich in knowledge than money. They are educated students or graduates but are poor most of the time. This line says he is still in his learning.

"His horse was thinner than a rake, and he was not too fat, i undertake."
-His horse wasnt as nice looking as the other horses in the group because he was poor. He himself was also skinny. Wasnt as healthy looking as the other pilgrims.

"But had a hollow look, a sober stare; the thread upon his overcoat was bare."
-He holds a lot of knowledge bt thats it. He has no money. His clothes werent as nice as the other pilgrims.

"He had found no
preferment
in the church and he was too
unworldly
to make search for
secular employment
."
Preferment:
Position; promotion.
Unwordly
: Spiritual, not in this world.
Secular Employment
: Not pertaining to religion or spirit.
-He didnt care to go to church, yet he is a spiritual person so he doesnt have any desire to look for a normal job. He cared more for his studies than becoming rich.

"By his bed he preferred having twenty books in red and black, of
Aristotle's
philosophy, than costly clothes, fiddle, psaltery."
-
Aristotle
: Greek philosopher. Psaltery: Stringed instrument that is plucked.
-He would rather have books b his bed that fill him with knowledge than have material things.

"Though a
philosopher
, as i have told, he had not
found the stone
for making gold."
-Philosophy
: Study of fundamental nature of knowledge and existence.
-Finding stone
: Alchemists were searching for stone that was supposed to turn ordinary metals, into gold.
-He didnt care about all the glam of being a philosopher, he only wanted to learn.

"Whatever money from his friends he took he spent on learning or another book."
-His friends gave him money because he was poor and all that money went to his learning and books.
"And prayed for them most earnestly, returning thanks to them thus paying for his learning."
-He prays for his friends because the had no knowledge, only wealth. But he thanks them for the money he uses for his learning.

"His only care was study, and indeed he never spoke a word more than was need."
-He is very quiet and reserved but when he does speak, it makes people want to listen because of his intelligence.

"Formal at that, respectful in the extreme, short, to the point, and
lofty
in his theme."
-Lofty
: Arrogant
-He is a little arrogant because he knows so much but yet respectful and says what he needs to say without hesitation.
"A tone of
moral virtue
filled his speech and gladly would he learn, and gladly teach."
-Moral Virtue
: Self control, virtue concerned with practical life. (Connected to Aristotle)
-He is happy with his values and his learning and he will happily keep learning and teaching others his knowledge and wisdom.
Compare and Contrast
Compare:

Contrast:
Rob Kardashian: He is the poor He isnt a pilgrim,
one of the family and doesnt do and he isnt smart.
as much as the others

Bill Gates: He is really smart The clerk didnt invent
and has a good education. anything.

Gary: He is quiet and reserved Gary is a snail and the
and he is smart. clerk is a pilgrim.

Mariah Carey: She is arrogant She is a famous singer
know it all. with a lot of money.


Lindsey Lohan: She is really She is skinny because
skinny. of drugs, not money.

Contree
"A proheyme in which discryveth he, pemond and the saluces the contree."

Definition: District, country.

History: From old french vulgar, latin contra (Land). Lying opposite narrowed 1520's to rural areas as oppsed to modern day cities. Replaced old english land. An adjective from late 14th century.
Wight
"And eek her virtue passynge any wight of so young age."

Definition: Person, creature, or being.

History: Old English living being creature. Spirit of the earth, knome. C.150
Welle
"Wel offer of the welle then of the tonne."

Definition: Hole dug for water (well)

History: Spring of water, old english term for a well.
Vitaille
"Houses of office stuffed with plentee ther maystow seen, of deyntvous vitaille."

Definition: Victuals

History: C. 1300. From Anglo-French and old french from late latin "provisions" from victus "Livelihood, food, sustenance." Early 16th century to conform with Latin.
Povre
"Amonges thise povre folk ther dwelt a man."

Definition: Poor, impovershed.

History: Early 15th century from old French empoveriss, stem of empoverir, from em-povre "poor"
Last ten words
Drad: Feared, respect.
Wedde: Marry
Deeth: Death
Yfrostred: Brought up, raised
Bountee: Goodness and virtue
Entente: Intention
Sikerly: Certainly, truly
Hoom: Homeward
hym: He preffered to, or chose to
Reverence: Dignity, respect
Sonne
"Thanne was she oon the faireste under sonne."

Definition: Sun

History: Old English and Irish. Alternative form of root. "To Shine"
Array
"And al the paleys put was in array."

Definition: Equipment, dress, clothes.

History: Arrangement from Anglo-French
Sighte
"She wolde fayn han seyn some of that sighte."

Definition: Foresight, view.

History: Middle english back formation from sight. Echoic of the sound of sighing.
Anon
"And she set doun hir water pot anon."

Definition: Straightaway, at once, immediately.

History: Literally into one. Continuosly. "Soon, in a little while. (1520's)
Herte
"Lenger the Plesance of myn herte hyde."

Definition: Heart

History: "Lust" "heartburn, indegestion" anger, bitterness. (Mid 25c)
Full transcript