The Nun's Priest's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Start Free Trial

In The Canterbury Tales, what is being satirized in "The Nun's Priest's Tale"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that with this excellent example of an animal fable we need to be aware of the danger of being distracted by the conflict between Chanticleer and the fox and pay more attention to the role of Pertelote. Note her role in bringing about Chanticleer's near-death experience: she deliberately berates Chanticleer about his dream and the fear that he suffers as a result, shaming him into carrying on as normal, whereas if he had paid attention to his dream and the message it was giving him, he would not have met the fox:

"Get along with you! Shame on you, faintheart!

Alas!" cried she, "For, by the Lord above,

Bow you have lost my heart, lost all my love.

I cannot love a coward, that I swear!"

Remembering that the teller of this tale was the Priest in a convent of nuns, surrounded by women every day, we can therefore perhaps see this tale as a subtle satire on women and how dangerous it can be to pay attention to their advice. Note that, although not acceptable today, in the past the woman was portrayed as the cause of man's fall in the Garden of Eden and therefore was considered as an unreliable counsellor.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial