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What does the Manciple look like in "The Canterbury Tales"?

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loulou718 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 21, 2008 at 10:37 AM via web

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What does the Manciple look like in "The Canterbury Tales"?

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted October 21, 2008 at 8:36 PM (Answer #1)

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In the General Prologue, where Chaucer gives a description of many of the characters, the only description he gives of the Manciple is of the man's profession.  Chaucer somewhat admires the Manciple because even though he isn't formally educated, he is a smart man.  He is a purchasing agent (purchasing food for the most part) for a large company of lawyers and he is more knowledgable about the market and investments than any of them.  Apparently he isn't entirely honest however.  In the prologue before he tells his tale, the Manciple is making fun of the Cook, whose turn it is to tell a tale.  The Cook is too drunk though to tell a tale and even too drunk to sit on his horse.  When the Manciple taunts him for being drunk, the Cook retaliates by threatening to reveal some information that the Manciple doesn't want revealed and so placates the Cook by suggesting he have more wine.  Since the Manciple works with money, what he wants hidden is probably that he's cheating the company he works for and skimming money from them.  The inferences are that the Manciple is not overly large (Chaucer makes fun of those pilgrims who are fat), not especially ugly or dirty (Chaucer speaks badly of them, too), not too old or too young since either quality would be one Chaucer would probably point out.  The Manciple is probably a man in his late twenties or early thirties and average looking.

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