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Which character from Canterbury Tales is described as very entertaining, friendly, and...

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caseypooh | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM via web

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Which character from Canterbury Tales is described as very entertaining, friendly, and solicitous?

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 17, 2011 at 10:09 AM (Answer #1)

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The Nun (also called the Prioress).  The fourth of the pilgrims described, the Nun is described by the unnamed narrator as

She certainly was very entertaining, 
Pleasant and friendly in her ways, and straining 
To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace, 
A stately bearing fitting to her place, 
And to seem dignified in all her dealings. 
As for her sympathies and tender feelings, 
She was so charitably solicitous 
She used to weep if she but saw a mouse 
Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bleeding.

Chaucer's description of the Nun shows us the first of many religious characters, who may not be as religious as they seem on the surface.  The nun tries to be entertaining- she tries to seem polite and well mannered.  We also see in the beginning of her description that she tries to speak fluent French, but it is a English version of French and therefore not as perfect as she tries to make it seem.

And she spoke daintily in French, extremely, 
After the school of Stratford-atte-Bowe; 
French in the Paris style she did not know.

She also seems to care tremendously; if she were to see a poor mouse suffer in a trap she would cry; however, while weeping over mice and feeding her dogs the finest foods ("With roasted flesh, or milk, or fine white bread") she's missing the fact that many people are starving and poor. She and her dogs eat better than most people during the time. This shows Chaucer pointing out the overly sentimental nature of the nun and calls into question her true motives.

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