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The Canterbury Tales: The Summoner's Tale

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by

Alfred Garcia

on 3 June 2011

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Transcript of The Canterbury Tales: The Summoner's Tale

The Canterbury Tales The Summoner's Tale Main Characters The Friar of Yorkshire
Thomas the sick householder
Thomas' Wife who lost her child
The Lord of the Village
The Lord's Squire Setting: Holderness, Yorkshire Genre: Fabliau Fabliau: a short metrical tale, usually ribal and humurous, popular in Medieval France Plot There was a friar once who went around begging for charity. He came upon the house of a man named Thomas. Previously Thomas had donated a lot of money to the friar but this time Thomas was sick. Thomas' wife told the friar that her child died two weeks before. The friar responded by saying that he already knew because he and the other friars had had a revelation and had seen the child entering heaven. He then told her that because friars live in poverty they are closer to God than anyone else and are therefore able to witness such things. The friar then asked Thomas for money and told him that he hadn’t given enough and that that is why Thomas was sick. Thomas angrily told the friar that he had been giving money to various friars and that he was still sick. The friar then gave a long sermon with three parables to Thomas about how anger is a bad thing. Thomas, annoyed at the friar’s hypocrisy, told the friar that he had a gift for him. Thomas told the friar that the only way he would give the gift was if the friar promised to divide the gift equally between the other friars. The friar agreed to this. Thomas then told the friar that he was sitting on the gift to keep it safe, he told the friar to get it. The friar then put his hand down Thomas’ back looking for the gift. While the friar’s hand was searching for the gift around Thomas' rear end Thomas “broke wind” on the friar’s hand. The friar angrily told Thomas that he would pay for what he had done but he was instead kicked out of the house by Thomas’ servant. The Friar then went to the home of the Lord of the village, there the friar told the Lord of what happened. The lord was not very sympathetic and instead jokingly wondered how the friar will divided Thomas’ “gift” in thirteen equal parts. The Lord’s squire then came up with a solution; the friar should sit in the center of a cartwheel and fart, each of the spokes would carry the smell along the rim and therefore, divide it up between each friar. The Lord was impressed and gave the squire new coat. Prologue The summoner is angry over the Friar's tale. He calls the friar's tale a lie and then he says that friars and fiends are the same. He then tells a quick anecdote in the prologue.
The story goes like this:
One day an angel brough a friar to Hell and led him up and down. The friar was surprised that he didn't see any friars in Hell and comented it to the angel. He asked the angel wether friars were so graceful that they did not go to Hell. The angel answered by telling him that there were millions of friars in Hell. Then the angel took the friar directly to Satan. Satan had a tail as broad as a sailing ship, the angel told Satan to lift his tail and like bees from a hive twenty thousand friars rushed out of Satan's rear end and once they were all out they all rushed back in. Source of Tale Probably based on "The Tale of the Priest's Bladder" a French 13th-Century fabliau The Summoner's Description Drunkard
Sinner
Hypocrite
Face is scarred by leprosy
Children are scared of him Theme: clerical corruption This was a common theme found within the Centerbury Tales and within the wider 14th Century world. What was a summoner? a paid mesenger who summoned "sinners" to appear before an ecclesiastical court This tale satires friars. It satires their long sermons and thier tendency to live well despite their vows of poverty. dictionary.com How is the tale related to the teller? The friar's tale paints summoners in a bad light, so instead of using his tale to defend summoners the Summoner uses his tale to attack friars.
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