What is the symbolic meaning of "The Friar's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales?

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

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The symbolic meaning of "The Friar's Tale" is clearly a strong attack against the Summoner, as the Friar's story includes a stereotypical summoner as its main character. Note however how this story presents summoners in a less than flattering light. As the demon-figure whom the Summoner in the story meets identifies, they are figures who are so obsessed with making money in any way whatsoever that they are just as bad as the demons that come up from the underworld to prey on poor unsuspecting individuals. Note what the fiend says to the Summoner and how he identifies a common link between them:

It seems that you're on the same errand too,

Lining your pocket, never minding how;

The same as me...

The ending of the story, where the Summoner is the "prey" that this "fiend" comes to claim because of his rapacious ways, is one that clearly shows the moral of this tale: unrestrained greed will end up in tragedy, as it takes you away from God and straight into the hands of the devil. The way in which the Summoner responds so strongly to this tale after it is over indicates that he is well aware of what an insult he has been delivered through this story.

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