The Nun's Priest's Tale

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Why is Chanticleer a round character in "The Nun's Priest's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales?

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Through the short story of "The Nun's Priest's Tale," we learn a lot about Chanticleer, who is the main character. He is a very proud rooster and this leads to his downfall in the story. It is interesting to see how he deals with adversity and it is easy to see that he has developed as his character changed by the end of the tale.

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By definition, round characters are well-developed and flat characters are not developed.  Sometimes round characters are also considered dynamic characters (as compared to static) because they have the ability to change and grow.  Chanticleer is considered a round character because we actually learn quite a bit about his life and...

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personality through the this tale.  Chanticleer is a very busy with all of "lady" hens and appears to be quite popular.  He is also characterizedto be lacking in courage as he reveals his bad dreams to Pertelote, his favorite of the hens.  She and he have an interesting relationship because she challenges his fears and calls him out on his lack of bravery.  An interesting contrast to this side of his personality is very strong pride over this singing voice.  It is this pride that gets him trouble with the sly Russell the Fox.  Luckily, he is able to escape the Fox with a clever reversal, but all of this story reveals several interesting sides of Chanticleer, making him more than a stereotypical rooster who struts around and makes a lot of noise. He learns a lesson about his fears and his talents and is a changed rooster by the end of the tale.

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A round character is defined as a character that is neither purely good nor purely evil. A round character should have both flaws and virtues that are evident.

A the beginning of the tale, Chanticleer is praised for his attractiveness and excellent crowing abilities. These would both be positive qualities. Chanticleer's worry in his dream also indicates that he is able to feel, and to have concern. Chanticleer also expresses love towards Pertelote.

Chanticleer's flaw is his vanity. He is wooed by the fox's flattery enough to be captured. He loves to be flattered. He learned his lesson by the end of the tale, though, when he smartly escapes the fox's jaws.

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What are some details from "The Nun's Priest's Tale" of The Canterbury Tales that support the claim that Chanticleer is a round character?

Round characters, characters who are fully developed, have many sides to their personalities, so much so that they are often perceived by readers as realistic. The Nun's Priest's tale is much like a fable as the rooster, the hen, and the fox are anthropomorphized, or given human qualities, and the tale leads to a moral lesson.

Chanticleer, the rooster, is a vain male that has several hens, the favorite of which is "the winsome Pertelot." One day

This Chanticleer he groaned within his throat
Like man that in his dreams is troubled sore.

 Pertelot asks what is troubling him, and he replies,

Ah, madame,
I pray you that you take it not in grief,
By God. I dreamed I’d come to such mischief....

And, he tells his love about a beast that kills him. Pertelot scolds him for not being a man, though he has "a beard."  In reply to her, Chanticleer relates the story of a man who had a similar dream and was, in fact, killed.  But, foolishly he listens to Pertelot--"took the counsel of his wife, with sorrow"--and does not heed his dream.  Later, however, a fox slyly watches the chickens, and tells Chanticleer that he means no harm and only wishes to hear him sing. Thus deceived by this flattery, Chanticleer, like his father, closes his eyes to crow, and the fox grabs him by his throat and carries him off.  But, the quick-witted Chanticleer, realizing his foolishness, plays upon the pride of the fox and tells him to turn and taunt Mistress Pertelot and the others who pursue him by saying,

"‘Turn back again, presumptuous peasants all!
A very pestilence upon you fall!
Now that I’ve gained here to this dark wood’s side,
In spite of you this cock shall here abide.
I’ll eat him, by my faith, and that anon!’”

The gullible fox does just this, and when he opens his mouth, Chanticleer jumps out and flies upon a branch in a tree. Then the fox tries to trick the rooster, but the wiser Chanticleer tells him,

If you beguile me, having done so once,
You shall no more, with any flattery....

Clearly, then, Chanticleer is a round character; for, he has learned and developed from his earlier mistakes of letting flattery from Perteloe convince him to disregard his dream as well as the cajolery of the fox to get his to close his eyes as he sings.  Wiser now, Chanticleer will not be fooled a third time.

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