The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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8: The Prioress's Tale Summary and Analysis.

After jesting rather coarsely about the monk in the Shipman's Tale—and monks in general—the Host switches to a tone of exaggerated politeness in inviting the Prioress to tell her tale.

A very young schoolboy learns a difficult Latin hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary because of his deep devotion to her. Every day, on the way to school and on the way home, he passes through the Jewish ghetto of the town singing the hymn.

Taking his singing as a direct insult, a group of wicked Jews has an assassin slit the boy's throat. The child's widowed mother searches for him everywhere. She finally discovers his poor little body on a dung heap. Miraculously, the child is still singing his hymn.

The Christians of the town bear his body to the monastery for burial, awed by the miracle of the child's continued singing. The boy, still able to speak, reveals to the abbot that the Virgin Mary has placed a miraculous kernel on his tongue which enables him...

(The entire section is 336 words.)