Does the Plowman have a tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Plowman does not have a tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. There have been several stories by writers other than Chaucer that claimed to be the Plowman's tale in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, though. At least one of these made it briefly into print during that time period. 

Although the Plowman is one of several characters in the General Prologue not to have a tale, he is one of the most favorably described characters:

He was an honest worker, good and true,

Living in peace and perfect charity,

And, as the Gospel bade, so did he,

Loving God best with all his heart and mind

And then his neighbor as himself.

Perhaps the Plowman is too good to have an interesting tale. Most of Chaucer's pilgrims tell tales that reflect in some way on their own imperfections or obsessions, but the Plowman doesn't appear to have any of those. He has a brother who is also travelling with the pilgrims, the Parson, who is also an upstanding character, and the only member of the clergy Chaucer does not depict as corrupt in some way.

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The Canterbury Tales

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