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

Geoffrey Chaucer

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
involved in the practice of alchemy?

10. What physical disfigurement have the experiments caused the Canon's Yeoman?

Answers
1. It contains action; the Canon and his Yeoman ride up to join the travelers.

2. The attempt to transmute (transform) base metals into gold.

3. Usually by the clergy; they were the only ones educated, thus the only ones who could read the ancient writings on the subject.

4. It has no known literary genre; it seems to be autobiographical/biographical.

5. He is fascinated by alchemy at the same time he recognizes its probable futility.

6. When his Yeoman begins to divulge the secret nature of their business, the Canon becomes furious and rides away.

7. One time he substitutes a gold ingot he had hidden in his sleeve for the silver; the other trick involves replacing evaporated quicksilver with liquid silver.

8. Alchemy always fails.

9. They keep hoping that the next time they will be successful.

10. His face is scarred and is a terrible color from having to blow on the fire constantly.