The Canterbury Tales 21: The Second Nun's Tale Questions and Answers

Geoffrey Chaucer

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?

Answers
1. It is an example of a saint's legend.

2. She converts her husband and obtains his promise that they will both remain virgins and never consummate the marriage.

3. She is a woman who has taken a vow of perpetual virginity; it is
suitable that she should honor St. Cecelia.

4. The Legend of Good Women (by Geoffrey Chaucer) is her source.

5. It is ironic because Chaucer, unknown to anyone, is among the pilgrims.

6. Angels appear in this tale after Valerian has converted (angels present crowns of flowers to him and to Cecelia) and when the souls of Valerian and Tiburtius are being borne to heaven after they are martyred.

7. This story is sincerely religious and is to be taken with complete seriousness; therefore, Chaucer omitted the humorous links.

8. She will not sacrifice to Jupiter.

9. Cecelia was protected by either divine intervention or a miracle.

10. A soldier sent by Maximus smites her three times with a sword; she dies three days later from her wounds.