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The Summoner's Tale

By: Remy Oliver , Justin Hindle , John Paul Popovich , Luke Esposito
by

Jon Williams

on 13 November 2012

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Transcript of The Summoner's Tale

The Summoner's Tale BACKGROUND Satire Canterbury Tales -This tale was told in response to the Friar's Tale.
Because it depicted a corrupt Summoner, The real Summoner took it as a personal insult.

-Primarily used to satirize the Friar's of the medieval times. The Summary nigga The Summoner’s tale is in direct response to the Friar’s tale, the Summoner asked the company to go directly after the Friar told his tale because he was furious with the Friars tale and wanted to stress the point that all friars are greedy thieves.
In the Summoner’s tale, a Frair conducted a regular sermon after which he goes around town begging for money. In return the Friar would promise to pray on the contributors’ behalf to try and get them into Heaven. However, after the Friar leaves he has no intention on praying for anybody. When the Friar went to the house of Thomas, the Friar spoke to Thomas’ wife because Thomas was very ill. His wife explained to the Friar that they had recently lost their child and how they have not seen any noticeable difference in Thomas’s illness or their feeling about their child. Thomas was especially upset because they had donated a large sum of money to all the friars to pray on his behalf and still saw no results. The Friar responded by saying Thomas did not donate enough money to expect a noticeable difference. This angered Thomas. In result, the Friar spoke about how anger is one of the seven deadly sins and telling Thomas to restrain his anger and instead make confessions for his sins. The Friar then went on to say that Thomas should donate gold to help the friars build a new monastery. This enraged Thomas all the more. However, thinking cleverly Thomas told the Friar he had a surprise for him and all the other friars. Thomas explained to the Friar that the surprise was underneath his buttocks and told the Friar to reach down and grab it, when the Friar complied, Thomas let out a thunderous fart. The Friar left the house in disgust and promised that he would seek revenge for being tricked so badly. As the Friar was explaining this to other friars they were thinking of ways to distribute the smell of a fart between twelve men. The Lord’s Squire, Jankin, overheard the Friar telling this story and had a solution to the distribution dilemma. Jankin proposed that the fart could be distributed equally by seating the twelve Friars around a cartwheel, each one with his nose at the end of a spoke, and making the old man let off a fart from the center. All the Friars accepted this proposal, except The Friar who was farted on first by the witty Thomas.
Throughout the Summoner’s Tale, Chaucer targets one person in particular. He targets the Summoners worst enemy the Friar. Chaucer continues to explain how the Friar’s were needy, lived off of charity, and portrayed as a greedy terrible person. The Friar tries to extract sums of money from people telling them it is there duty to pay. The Summoners Tale was told in response to the Friar’s tale and is written that his tale (The Summoners) is aimed to satirize the entire community of Friar’s. Throughout this we can tell that both the Friar and the Summoner hate each other greatly. Along with the vast amounts of vulgar used in this tale, the Friar community of these times was at a low point where Friars were not treated all that well. From this point on there is an ongoing rivalry between the Friar and the Summoner. In the personal conflict between the Friar and the Summoner, the Friar's attack is on the Summoner's intelligence. On the personal level, the Summoner's response makes the Friar seem a raving idiot. Getting even with the Friar for his tale of a wicked summoner, the Summoner tells of a wicked friar. The prologue reinforces this, with a friar being sent to hell, and not seeing any other friars, the friar assumes that they are all virtuous men. The angel escorting him requests Satan to stand up, and twenty-thousand friars pour out from between his legs. The friar then realizes that all other friars are hypocrites, and have been sent to hell. The Summoner's story shows the Summoner's disdain for the pilgrim Friar and the Summoner's belief that the message the friar in the tale espouses is of a blasphemous nature, one that inverts and perverts the essence of his Christian order.
When the friar enters Thomas' house and learns that the man is dying, he sees a perfect opportunity to increase his coffers under the guise of the Church's needs. In doing so, he commits one of the most horrible sins of the Middle Ages, that of simony — using the offices of the church for one's own personal gain. Indeed, the friar should be a character of purity and good works; instead the reader sees him inverting the meaning of his order and becoming the primary source of deceit and corruption by using the church for his corrupt actions. Again, the friar's hypocrisy and simony is evident when he assures Thomas and Thomas' wife that he has prayed for the soul of their dead child and for the health of Thomas when, in fact, the reader knows intuitively that he has done no such thing.
An organizing feature of The Summoner's Tale is the ironic contrast between what the Friar advocates and what he preaches. The Friar preaches desire for higher things, but his own appetite is for food and things of this world. His sermon on fasting and gluttony is accompanied by his ordering a meal considered rather gluttonous. He preaches patience and self-control, but he himself gives way to wrath. He sermonizes on the value of the "poor in spirit" and poverty, and yet he is openly insistent that money be given to him and not other monks or friars. And while he is supposedly pure and chaste, he is overly familiar with Thomas' wife, kissing and fondling her.
The Summoner's Tale is also ripe with hypocritical paradoxes, many of which have as their base the difference between eschatology and scatology — that is, the concern for an afterlife juxtaposed with the obscenities of this earthly life. This theme is also treated extensively and with much more comic power in the earlier tale. Chaucer uses the fart as an ironic comment on the friar's claim that he can talk to God, and the fart, like a stroke of thunder, answers back. That the friar believes he must portion out the fart equally among the other friars shows him to be concerned more with scatology than with eschatology. It is further ironic that the lord's meat carver is the one who devises a plan to split the fart. This reinforces the notion that the friar and his order are interested more with the obscenities of an earthly life that with the occupation of saving souls, their own included. Morals And Themes Literary Devices In the Summoner's tale, the Summoner exposes the true nature of or mocks the Friars through literary devices. The Summoner characterizes Friars as corrupt, deceiving, hypocrites who will say anything to get money or items from the people. The Summoner shows the hypocrisy of the Friars through irony. For example, the Friar talks about the virtues of leading a simple life but then requests a luxurious dinner from the wife. The Friar also preaches to Thomas against ire but is then overcome with anger after he is tricked into accepting a fart. The tone in the tale is mockery. A good example of this is when the twelve Friars are gathered around the spokes of a wheel to receive a fart. This symbolizes a parody of the twelve apostles receiving the Holy Spirit. An example of Imagery is when he describes the rich people as "fat as a whale and walking like a swan."
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