In The Canterbury Tales, what is the summary of Chaucer's  "The Nun's Priest's Tale"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This tale seems to be a version of one of the fables of Aesop. The tale begins with a poor widow who possesses a rooster called Chanticleer. He is remarkable because he crows precisely on the hour and he is splendid in his appearance. Chanticleer, we are told, has seven hens, but the one he loves most is known as Demoiselle Partlet.

One morning, Partlet hears Chanticleer making strange noises as if her were in pain. Chanticleer tells her that he has suffered a nightmare where a strange red-coloured beast with a tail grabbed him and was about to kill him. Partlet makes fun of Chanticleer, saying that dreams are not reality and we should not be afraid of dreams. She tells Chanticleer to find some herbs to ingest, thinking that nightmares are the result of indigestion.

Chanticleer, taking umbrage against Partlet, defends his dream by talking about the way that many people in history have been warned about an upcoming disaster through dreams. Those who listened to their dreams did not perish, but those who ignored them died. Because of this he says he is not "stupid" to take the dream seriously, but actually very wise. Then Chanticleer seems to forget about the dream again and becomes his normal loving self with Partlet.

However, we are told that whilst Chanticleer had his nightmare, a fox entered the yard and is now hiding amongst the herbs waiting for a chance to snatch Chanticleer. As Chanticleer walks in the yard and notices the fox, becoming paralysed with fear. The fox tells Chanticleer not to be afraid, because he wants to listen to Chanticleer sing his great songs. He flatters Chanticleer unceasingly until Chanticleer is no longer afraid and begins to crow for the fox. Having distracted Chanticleer, he snatches him and runs away with him, intending to eat him later. Partlet and the other hens make so much noise that the entire neighbourhood begins to chase the fox, making a lot of noise.

When the fox reaches the forest he rests for a moment. Chanticleer reverses the situation, flattering the fox by saying that he should tell the crowd to desist from following, as the fox is so much quicker than they are. The fox, proud of his speed, opens his mouth to utter this boast to the crowd following him, and Chanticleer escapes up into a tree where the fox cannot reach him. The fox again tries to capture Chanticleer through flattery, but Chanticleer has learnt his lesson and does not listen to the fox's blandishments. The fox leaves and Chanticleer lives to see another day.


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