Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales Analysis

The Poem (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

One April, a group of pilgrims gathers at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, near London, to embark on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. After dinner, Harry Bailly, the host, proposes a storytelling competition on the journey. The host will judge, and the winner will receive a dinner at the Tabard Inn. The following morning, as the pilgrims depart, they draw lots to begin. The Knight draws the shortest lot and tells his tale.

In “The Knight’s Tale,” Duke Theseus returns to Athens victorious over the Amazons with their queen, Hippolyta, as his wife and with her sister Emily. They encounter women mourning because the Theban king, Creon, refuses burial for their husbands, who were killed besieging Thebes. Duke Theseus then conquers Thebes. He captures two knights, Palamon and Arcite, and imprisons them.

One May morning, both Palamon and Arcite fall in love with Emily when they see her walking in the garden. Duke Perotheus, a friend of Duke Theseus, negotiates Arcite’s release on the condition that he never return to Athens. Arcite longs for Emily, however, so he disguises himself as a squire, calls himself Philostratus, and serves at the court of Duke Theseus. Meanwhile, Palamon escapes by sedating his jailer.

By chance, Palamon and Arcite meet in the woods outside Athens. Duke Theseus finds them as they battle over Emily. He decrees that Palamon and Arcite should return in a year to wage a tournament for Emily. Palamon and Arcite gather with their knights at the new stadium built by Duke Theseus. Palamon is defeated, but Arcite is mortally injured while riding in victory around the stadium. After mourning Arcite, Duke Theseus arrange for the marriage of Palamon and Emily.

After commending the Knight’s story, Harry Bailly asks the Monk to continue, but Robin, the drunken Miller, insists on telling his bawdy tale next. In “The Miller’s Tale,” John, an older carpenter who is married to Alison, a pretty young woman, is afraid of her attractiveness to other men. Nicholas, a student who boards in their house, proposes a tryst with Alison. Absalom, a parish clerk, also tries to court her. Nicholas contrives a plan to deceive the carpenter. He convinces the carpenter of an impending flood and instructs John to provide tubs and provisions for them. At night, when they retire to their tubs in the attic to await the deluge, the carpenter falls asleep and Nicholas steals away with Alison to her bedroom.

Meanwhile, Absalom woos Alison outside her room. In the darkness, he asks for a kiss. She sticks her backside out the window. He kisses her backside. Realizing that he has been duped, Absalom obtains a red-hot iron. Absalom returns and asks for another kiss. Nicholas, amazed at Absalom’s foolishness and wishing to participate in the jest, sticks his backside out the window while Alison says it is she, and Absalom brands Nicholas with the iron. Nicholas’s screams of pain awaken the carpenter, who falls to the ground and breaks his arm. Nicholas and Alison convince the neighbors that the carpenter is delusional about the flood.

Next, the Reeve, the Cook, and the Man of Law tell their stories. In “The Reeve’s Tale,” a reaction to “The Miller’s Tale,” Oswald the Reeve tells about a dishonest miller who robs two clerks. They retaliate against him by getting him drunk and taking advantage of his wife and daughter. “The Cook’s Tale,” a fragment of about fifty lines, tells of a young man done out of his inheritance by a wicked older brother. In “The Man of Law’s Tale,” Constance, daughter of a Roman emperor, marries first a sultan of Syria who is killed and then a king. Both mothers-in-law cause her to be accused of treachery, but ultimately she is reunited with her second husband.

The wife of Bath next offers her tale. She prefaces the story with a discourse on marriage, based on her experiences with five husbands. In “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” a knight in King Arthur’s court rapes a young woman. When he is sentenced to death, the queen intercedes and agrees to save the knight’s life if he searches for a year to ascertain what women most desire. As he is about to return after an unsuccessful search, he encounters an ugly old woman. She agrees to tell him the answer if he will grant her next request. The knight agrees, is told what women want, and returns to court. When the knight reveals to the queen that women desire power, his answer is accepted. The old woman appears and demands that the knight marry her. The knight is reluctant but changes his mind after the old woman lectures him on the true character of nobility. After the marriage, the old woman is transformed, becoming young and beautiful.

The Friar, the Summoner, the Clerk, the Merchant, the Squire, the Franklin, the Physician, the Pardoner, the Shipman, the Prioress, the Monk, and even the narrator himself all tell their tales as the pilgrims continue toward Canterbury. “The Friar’s Tale,” directed by the Friar at the Summoner, paints a humiliating picture of a wicked summoner in cahoots with the devil whose scheme against a widow backfires, landing him in hell. The Summoner retaliates by telling “The Summoner’s Tale,” in which a greedy, hypocritical friar visits the home of Thomas, a villager. In “The Clerk’s Tale,” patient Griselda, the daughter of the poorest man in a poor village, is married to a marquis who tests the limits of her patience by subjecting her to endless indignities. In “The Merchant’s Tale,” a young woman, married to an old man who goes blind, carries on an affair practically under his nose until the god Pluto restores the old man’s sight. Proserpine in turn gives the wife a good excuse for what the old man “sees” as his wife’s infidelity.

“The Squire’s Tale,” an incomplete tale, tells of a king’s daughter, Canacee, who is given a brass horse that can fly, a mirror with the power to foretell disaster, and a ring that enables its wearer to understand the language of birds. In “The Franklin’s Tale,” Dorigen, wed to Averagus, is loved by Aurelius, in whom she has no interest. She promises to be his lover if he can accomplish the near-impossible task of clearing away all the rocks on the seacoast. With a magician’s help, Aurelius completes the task, but when he realizes Dorigen does not really want him, he releases her from her promise. In “The Physician’s Tale,” the Roman knight Virginius has a beautiful daughter Virginia, who is lusted after by a wicked judge, Apius. Apius schemes to get her under his power, and, when his success seems inevitable, Virginia tells her father she would rather die than become Apius’s lover. When she swoons, her father cuts off her head.

In “The Pardoner’s Tale,” three blasphemous, lecherous revelers decide to seek out Death to destroy him. In their search, however, they find a cache of gold, which makes them turn on one another in their greed. They end up killing one another, thus meeting Death at last. In “The Shipman’s Tale,” a monk cuckolds a miserly merchant and then causes his wife to reveal her infidelity to her husband. In “The Prioress’s Tale,” a boy, delighted with the song “Alma Redemptoris,” sings it so much that a group of Jews become incensed enough to hire someone to kill him. The killer tosses the body into a pit to hide it, but, miraculously, the dead boy begins to sing, and those searching for him find his body and the killers, who are quickly put to death.

“The Monk’s Tale” actually combines several stories that tell of the fall from power or high station of Lucifer, Adam, Samson, Hercules, Nero, Julius Caesar, and several other men. Chaucer, the narrator, next begins “The Tale of Sir Thopas,” a kind of parodied romance, but he is interrupted by the Host, who claims the doggerel Chaucer uses is downright silly and lewd. Instead, Chaucer tells the story of Melibee/Meliboeus, in which Melibee debates with his wife the best way to deal with one’s enemies.

Because “The Monk’s Tale” was a tragedy that has saddened the company, Harry Bailly asks the Nun’s Priest to lighten their hearts with a merrier tale. In “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” Chauntecleer is a vain rooster. One night, as Chauntecleer sleeps beside his favorite hen, Pertelote, he dreams about a fox. Pertelote does not believe in dreams and chides him for cowardice. Although Chauntecleer thinks dreams have veracity, he flies down into the yard the next morning. Sir Russel, the fox, arrives and flatters Chauntecleer into singing. The fox seizes Chauntecleer and runs into the woods. Chauntecleer advises the fox to eat him immediately. When the fox opens his mouth to reply, Chauntecleer escapes.

“The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is followed by “The Second Nun’s Tale,” “The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale,” “The Manciple’s Tale,” and finally “The Parson’s Tale,” a long prose tract. “The Second Nun’s Tale” recounts the life of the famous Roman martyr St. Cecilia. “The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale” is a story of a swindling alchemist that serves to denounce the trickery involved in alchemy. “The Manciple’s Tale,” a variation on the traditional telltale bird story, tells of the crow, who once was white. After he tells his owner, Phoebus Apollo, that Apollo’s wife has been unfaithful—and after Apollo slays her—the crow is turned black by the angry god. “The Parson’s Tale,” more a sermon than a story, is about penitence, various sins, and their remedies.

The Canterbury Tales Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Tabard Inn

Tabard Inn. English tavern that is the starting point of the poem’s pilgrimage, located in Southwark, a borough across the River Thames from and just south of London, at the beginning of the main road to Canterbury—the pilgrims’ destination. The owner of the inn, Harry Bailly, proposes and serves as judge for the storytelling contest that makes up The Canterbury Tales. The tavern location is an appropriate entryway into Chaucer’s world for a number of reasons. It is a place of hospitality and conviviality, in which men and women of a variety of social classes and backgrounds might realistically mingle informally and in temporary equality (as done on the pilgrimage itself). The historical Southwark was a neighborhood that was not entirely respectable, known for its brothels as well as its taverns, and many of the tales represent immoral characters and bawdy incidents. Indeed, in Chaucer’s time, many people viewed pilgrimages with some suspicion, as opportunities for rowdy vacations rather than as pious religious journeys. Finally, the first four tales have often been seen as unified by the theme of “herbergage,” of the use and misuse of dwelling-places and hospitality.

*Canterbury

*Canterbury. Destination of the pilgrims in England’s southeastern Kent region. The pilgrims undertake the journey to visit the shrine of St. Thomas, located in the Trinity Chapel in Canterbury’s great cathedral. The collection ends just before they arrive at Canterbury; its penultimate tale, of the Manciple, is delivered at “Bobbe-Up-and-Down” (usually identified as Harbledown, two miles from Canterbury). The prologue to the final tale, that of the Parson, makes explicit the allegorical significance of the location as the Parson undertakes to show the pilgrims that their physical journey from London to Canterbury is an emblem of their spiritual pilgrimage as Christians from this world to heaven.

*London

*London. England’s capital city. While the pilgrims themselves leave London immediately, the various prologues and tales mention some fifteen or twenty specific buildings, streets, and landmarks within the city and reinforce the contemporary and local atmosphere of a work whose tales themselves are often set in distant times and places. For example, the “Cook of London” sets his fragmentary tale among the working (and even unemployed) classes in “our city.” What exists of his tale suggests that it was to have been an exploration of the seamier side of the city in Chaucer’s day.

*Canterbury Way

*Canterbury Way. Route taken by the pilgrims along the course of the old Roman Watling-Street, roughly congruent with modern England’s A2 highway that connects London to Canterbury. The work mentions some ten towns or place-names along the way, which some scholars have seen as offering clues to the organization of the work as a whole, under the theory that Chaucer must have meant to present these places in the correct geographical order in which the pilgrims would have passed them. Other scholars caution that the fact that not one of the fifty-five relatively complete manuscripts of the Tales is organized so as to present these places in their proper sequence constitutes a warning not to press this point too literally.

*Athens

*Athens. One of the chief cities of ancient Greece and the scene of most of the Knight’s tale, the epic’s first and longest tale. The most important locations within the Greek city are the tower in which Palamon and Arcite are imprisoned and the adjacent garden in which Emelye takes her walks. The men’s rivalry for Emelye’s hand is finally resolved at the third important location, a circular stone stadium a mile in circumference built to contain a tournament at which they will fight for Emelye’s hand. At the main gates to this stadium are three shrines, to Venus, Mars, and Diana. All of these locations fulfill important thematic functions for the poem. The prison and garden are metaphors for life’s spiritual and psychological prisons and gardens, which are shown to be far more significant than physical ones. The stadium represents the efforts of the governor of Athens, Theseus, to impose order and structure upon the chaos of the (pagan) world, and each of the three temples is associated with, and revelatory of, one of the three members of the romantic triangle.

*Troy

*Troy. Ancient city in Asia Minor made famous in Homer’s Iliad (c. 800 b.c.e.). It is by far the most frequently used geographical name in Chaucer’s work, although the vast majority of those references occur in another work, his long historical romance Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1382), which is set in and around Troy at the close of the Trojan War.

The Canterbury Tales Historical Context

The Black Plague
During Chaucer’s lifetime, the Black Plague swept across Europe, causing hundreds of thousands of...

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The Canterbury Tales Quizzes

1: General Prologue Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How many pilgrims are making the journey to Canterbury?

2. Why are all these people going to Canterbury?

3. List the members of the middle class in the group.

4. List the members of the clergy.

5. Which members of the clergy appear to be corrupt or sinful?

6. What plan for the group does the Host propose?

7. How does Chaucer himself fit into the group?

8. By what devices does Chaucer reveal his characters?

9. How many of the tales did Chaucer actually complete?

10. What weaknesses within the Church do the pilgrim clergy represent?

Answers
1. There...

(The entire section is 263 words.)

2: The Knight's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is it appropriate that the Knight should tell the first story?

2. Which features of the romance are evident in this tale?

3. How do Arcite and Palamon come to be imprisoned?

4. How is each man released from prison?

5. Why is Arcrite not recognized when he is employed in Emily's household?

6. How is it decided who will marry Emily?

7. What happens to prevent the man who won Emily's hand from marrying her?

8. What characteristics of chivalry are evident in the story?

9. What is the theme of The Knight's Tale?

10. From what sources did Chaucer borrow material for this tale?

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(The entire section is 239 words.)

3: The Miller's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are the main sources of humor in this story?

2. What does Chaucer seem to be saying about marriage?

3. What details make the tale seem realistic?

4. What basic human need motivates each of the characters?

5. Why is it appropriate for the Miller to tell this particular story?

6. Describe how The Miller's Tale qualifies as a fabliau.

7. What is the theme of the story?

8. What rivalry is set up before this tale is told?

9. How is the medieval fascination with astrology introduced into the story?

10. What traditional plot is present in The Miller's Tale?

...

(The entire section is 279 words.)

4: The Reeve's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does the miller, Simkin, parallel the Miller on the pilgrimage?

2. How is Simkin paid back by the clerics for his cheating?

3. What features of human nature are exaggerated in this tale?

4. What elements of the fabliau are present in The Reeve's Tale?

5. How does the Reeve pay the Miller back with this story?

6. What was the reaction of the other pilgrims to the tale told by the Miller?

7. Why was The Miller's Tale so offensive to the Reeve?

8. What qualities does the Reeve say characterize old men?

9. How does the infant in the cradle function in this story?

10. What "advantages"...

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6: The Man of Law's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
l. What concession does the Sultan of Syria make in order
to obtain the hand of Constance in marriage?

2. How does Constance end up a widow landing on the coast of Britain?

3. How does Constance come to wed King Aella?

4. What type of wife is Constance intended to represent?

5. How does this contrast with the wives in the preceding stories?

6. List the types of narratives that Chaucer drew on to create this tale.

7. What device is employed extensively in the structure of the tale?

8. Describe the underlying theological theme of The Man of Law's Tale.

9. Describe the events that lead Constance...

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7: The Shipman's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does the wife in the story obtain the money she needs for her new dress?

2. How is Don John's loan actually repaid and by whom?

3. Does the merchant learn of the arrangement between his wife and Don John?

4. What elements of the fabliau are obvious in this tale?

5. What does the author seem to be saying about marriage?

6. What rationale does the wife use to convince the husband that she really must be well-dressed?

7. Does the husband, who is a merchant, appear to be miserly or just careful?

8. What makes the monk Don John unattractive as a person?

9. How does the merchant in this story seem...

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8: The Prioress's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is the central character in the story?

2. What is his special mark of devotion to the Virgin Mary?

3. Why do the Jews in the story hate the boy so much?

4. Describe the grim nature of the boy's murder.

5. What miraculous circumstance attends the finding of the murdered boy?

6. How is the abbot able to release the boy's soul?

7. How do the Catholics interpret the child's amazing singing?

8. How does the modern reader account for the treatment of the Jews in this tale?

9. Why is it appropriate that this tale should be told by the Prioress?

10. What happens to the Jews in the tale?...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

9: The Tale of Sir Thopas Questions and Answers

Study Questions
l. What elements of the romance are found in the story of Sir Thopas?

2. What leads the reader to understand that the story is a parody?

3. On what ancient form of literature is the Tale of Melibeus based?

4. What causes Harry Bailley to disapprove of The Tale of Sir Thopas?

5. Why does he approve of the Tale of Melibeus?

6. What kind of a wife is Prudence in the story of Melibeus?

7. Explain how The Tale of Sir Thopas is a joke on the Host.

8. In what way does the story of Melibeus complete the joke?

9. What does the Narrator call the divisions in The Tale of Sir Thopas?

10. What is...

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10: The Monk's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What kind of a wife does the Host have?

2. How does the description of Harry Bailley's married state fit in with the theme of many of the tales?

3. What is the Host's opinion of the clergy?

4. How does the Monk respond to the teasing of the Host?

5. What is the theme of The Monk's Tale?

6. From what sources are the examples drawn?

7. The Monk's Tale is not actually a story. What is it?

8. List three of the 17 notable figures described in this section.

9. Against what is the Monk warning the listeners?

10. Why must the listeners not trust in these things?

...

(The entire section is 240 words.)

11: The Nun's Priest's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. In what genre is The Nun's Priest's Tale written?

2. How do the rooster and the hens and the fox reflect the typical format of this genre?

3. How has Chaucer altered the traditional plot of this old tale?

4. What is the obvious moral theme?

5. What is the more subtle theme of the story?

6. What is Chanticleer's great fault?

7. What is the redeeming quality that prevents his destruction?

8. What commentary about the nature of women is inserted in this tale?

9. What brings an end to the long list of tragedies the Monk was recounting?

10. How has the Monk revenged himself on Harry...

(The entire section is 212 words.)

12: The Wife of Bath's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. At what age was the Wife of Bath first married?

2. Name two arguments that the Wife uses in her defense of the married state.

3. What is the Wife's "philosophy" of marriage?

4. How has the Wife changed as she has aged?

5. In what way were her fourth and fifth husbands different from the first three?

6. What ongoing argument begins in this prologue?

7. What type of tale does the Wife tell?

8. For what crime is the young knight being punished?

9. Why is it fitting that this tale should be told by the Wife of Bath?

10. How does the ending of the story reconcile with the Wife's...

(The entire section is 240 words.)

13: The Friar's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What insulting remark about summoners is made by the Friar in his prologue?

2. How does the pilgrim Summoner respond to the insult?

3. In what way might a sinner in the tale have the charges of the summoner dismissed?

4. Who does the stranger he meets say he is?

5. What causes the summoner in the tale to declare eternal brotherhood for the stranger?

6. What is the real identity of the stranger?

7. Why don't the farmer's curses send his animal to hell?

8. Why do the curses of the old woman have the result of sending the summoner to hell?

9. What is the theme of this story?

10. What...

(The entire section is 238 words.)

14: The Summoner's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the reaction of the Summoner to The Friar's Tale?

2. What happens in the Summoner's joke about the friars?

3. What happened to the prayers that were supposed to be
offered for all who donated to the friars?

4. Why is Thomas so angry with the friar?

5. How does the friar try to calm his benefactor's anger?

6. What new donation does Thomas make by way of response to the friar's sermon?

7. To whom does the friar take his case against Thomas?

8. What distracts the lord of the shire from dealing with the
insult?

9. Who finally solves the problem of dividing the "gift"?

...

(The entire section is 246 words.)

15: The Cleric's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What promise does Griselda make to Walter before accepting his offer of marriage?

2. Name each of the tests Walter applies to test Griselda's loyalty.

3. Does Walter ever relent in his testing of his wife?

4. On which two Italian classics is The Cleric's Tale based?

5. Which two genres are represented in this story?

6. Why does Walter not allow the people to select his wife for him?

7. How does Walter use public opinion to persuade the Pope to grant nullification of his marriage?

8. When she comes to her father's house, who do the people think Walter's daughter is?

9. How is the hearer intended...

(The entire section is 276 words.)

16: The Merchant's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Describe the trickery and deception used to dupe January.

2. What is the literary genre of The Merchant's Tale?

3. What elements of the romance are incorporated?

4. What is the theme of this tale?

5. What is this story saying about marriage?

6. What does the Merchant reveal about his own marriage in his prologue?

7. Who sympathizes with him?

8. What is the significance of the names of the husband and wife in this tale?

9. What is the function of the advisors to the old knight?

10. Why is it appropriate that this tale be told by the Merchant?

Answers
...

(The entire section is 262 words.)

17: The Squire's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What element is inserted in The Squire's Tale that is not present in any of the others?

2. What is the probable theme of this tale?

3. What elements of the romance are present in this fragment?

4. What type of tale is the falcon's story intended to imitate?

5. What gifts does the mysterious knight bring Cambiuskan?

6. Describe the magical properties of each of the gifts.

7. Who has sent the strange knight?

8. What event is being celebrated when the bearer of gifts enters?

9. Why does the Host invite the Squire to tell a love story?

10. What is the Franklin's opinion of the Squire?...

(The entire section is 259 words.)

18: The Franklin's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What quality of the nobility does the Franklin admire most and try to imitate in his tale?

2. What is the rash promise made by Dorigen which is the source of all the trouble in The Franklin's Tale?

3. In what literary genre is this story written?

4. What is the theme of this tale?

5. From what sources did Chaucer borrow in creating The Franklin's Tale?

6. What is the effect on Aurelius when Dorigen rebuffs him?

7. Who stands by Aurelius during all of his trials?

8. How is the impossible feat of removing the rocks finally accomplished?

9. When he cannot pay his debt, what does Aurelius promise to...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

19: The Physician's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
l. What characteristic of an exemplum is found in The Physician's Tale?

2. How are The Franklin's Tale, The Physician's Tale, and The Second Nun's Tale alike?

3. In what way are they different?

4. What is the theme of The Physician's Tale?

5. In what way does Virginius represent true justice and how does Appius represent justice corrupted?

6. How does Virginia, though pagan, fit into the medieval
Christian concept of virtuous womanhood?

7. How did Chaucer change his tale from the original?

8. On what source is The Physician's Tale based?

9. What trumped up charges put Virginia under the...

(The entire section is 260 words.)

20: The Pardoner's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is an allegory?

2. What abstract qualities are portrayed by the evil young men in the story?

3. What is the theme of this tale?

4. What is the moral lesson of this tale?

5. What characteristics does the Pardoner reveal in his prologue?

6. How does this story fit the character of the Pardoner?

7. Why would medieval audiences have been familiar with The Pardoner's Tale?

8. How does the youngest reveler plan to kill the other two?

9. Does he kill them?

10. How does the youngest die?

Answers
1. An allegory is a tale in which the characters personify...

(The entire section is 208 words.)

21: The Second Nun's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. The Second Nun's Story is the only example of what type
of story?

2. How does Cecelia maintain her virginity in marriage?

3. Why is it appropriate that this story be told by the Nun?

4. Where did the Nun learn the story of St. Cecelia?

5. Why is this slightly ironic?

6. When do angels appear in this story?

7. What may account for the absence of conversational links before and after The Second Nun's Tale?

8. For what specific refusal is Cecelia condemned to death?

9. Why doesn't the raging fire burn the young wife?

10. From what cause does St. Cecelia finally die?

...

(The entire section is 262 words.)

22: The Canon's Yeoman's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. In what way is the prologue to this tale different from others in The Canterbury Tales?

2. What is alchemy?

3. By whom was alchemy practiced and why was its practice confined to this group?

4. Why is The Canon's Yeoman's Tale different from the other tales?

5. About what does the Canon's Yeoman seem to be in conflict?

6. What angers the pilgrim Canon? What does he do because of his anger?

7. Describe the two tricks the alchemist employs to dupe the priest in the tale.

8. What is always the outcome of alchemy?

9. According to the Canon's Yeoman, what keeps people
...

(The entire section is 264 words.)

23: The Manciple's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Another rivalry among the characters is revealed in the prologue to The Manciple's Tale. Between whom is this new rivalry and what is its basis?

2. Into what genre does The Manciple's Tale fall?

3. What is the theme of this tale?

4. Why is it appropriate for the Manciple to tell this particular tale?

5. How is the Cook calmed and persuaded not to argue further with the Manciple?

6. What did Phoebus' crow look like before he was cursed?

7. How was his appearance changed after he was cursed?

8. What specifically did the bird do which so angered Phoebus?

9. How does the behavior of Phoebus' wife...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

24: The Parson's Tale Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is the long sermon of the Parson appropriate to his character?

2. What is the theme of The Parson's Tale?

3. What are the sources Chaucer used in constructing this tale?

4. What kind of story were the Host and the pilgrims expecting from the Parson?

5. What comparison does the Parson make in his prologue?

6. Why does the Parson refuse to tell a fable?

7. In what genre is this tale written?

8. What requirement necessitated the clergy to instruct the laity about penitence?

9. What kind of handbook might The Parson's Tale comprise?

10. At what stage of the journey is The Parson's...

(The entire section is 200 words.)