Stephanie Hunter's Nun's Priest's Authentic Assessment


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Final Assignment for UMUC ENG309 class.

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Stephanie Hunter's Nun's Priest's Authentic Assessment

  1. 1. Stephanie Hunter Carol L. Bellamy English 309 (6980) 27 October 2013 A Canterbury Tales Pilgrimage Scene (Canterbury Tales Pilgrimage Image). Chaucer as a Romance Writer Through The Nun's Priest's Tale
  2. 2. Chaucer as a Romance Writer Through The Nun's Priest's Tale The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This particular tale stands as an example of Geoffrey Chaucer’s ability as a Romance writer. He uses various methods throughout the story to showcase this. Chauntecleer the rooster, morals, and allegory all play big roles in the workings of his story to show how Chaucer can be considered a Romantic writer. Thus, it can be summed up that: Chaucer demonstrates his ability as a Romance writer in The Nun's Priest's Tale through the use of his main “hero” Chauntecleer, through the use of allegory, and morals in his story. Chaucer Book (Chaucer Book Image)
  3. 3. Introduction: The Nun's Priest's Tale  Geoffrey Chaucer's ta1e is about a rooster and his lovely harem of hens. The rooster, Chauntecleer, has a dream one night of his possible demise at the hands of a red beast. When hearing his dream, his favored companion, Pertelote, calls him a coward (Chaucer 88). Pertelote tells him that she “can nat love a coward […] / For certes, what so many women saith, / We alle desiren, if it might be, / To han housbondes hardy, wise, and free” (Chaucer 91-94). The Nun’s Priest (Nun’s Priest Image). By this she means that women want men who are strong and unafraid. She goes on to tell Chauntecleer that he should be ashamed his fear (Chaucer 98-99).
  4. 4. Introduction: The Nun's Priest's Tale  Chautecleer only brought up his nightmare because he feared it was foretelling his future. His lady, Pertelote, tells him that it must just be his delicate stomach and that it will pass; she also quotes a Roman writer who is noted as saying not to pay attention to your dreams (Chaucer 120-121). Chauntecleer thanks Pertelote for her input about Cato, the Roman writer, but says that there are many other writers with better authority than Cato who say that dreams foretell happiness as well as tragedy (Chaucer 154-161). Chauntecleer lists examples to counteract Pertelote’s argument about dreams being foolish to listen to. For example, he tells a tale about two men traveling together, looking for a place to sleep upon arrival in a town—one man sleeps in a barn and the other gets lucky by finding a room at an inn. In a dream, the man in the barn comes to the man at the inn saying that he will be murdered in the barn that night if the man in the inn does not come to his aid (Chaucer 164-187).
  5. 5. Introduction: The Nun's Priest's Tale  Now, a fox had come into the barnyard and was hiding amongst the cabbages until midmorning waiting to strike upon Chauntecleer (Chaucer 395-405). While singing, Chanutecleer notices the fox lying in the cabbages and goes to flee immediately (Chaucer 459-463). The fox tells him to stay because he has such a lovely voice, like that of an angel (Chaucer 471472). Fox in Cabbages (Fox in Cabbages Image). Chauntecleer falls for this flattery (and more) from Russel the fox; as Chauntecleer stretched out his neck, closing his eyes to sing, Russel snatches him by the neck in his teeth and rushes into the woods (Chaucer 511-515). All the hens shrieked causing the owners of the barnyard to rush out to see what all the commotion was; and with the neighbors they all chased after the fox into the woods (Chaucer 555-561).
  6. 6. Introduction: The Nun's Priest's Tale In Russel’s haste to flee with his prize, Chauntecleer, trapped on Russel’s back as he moved quickly through the woods, told him that he should turn around and tell the people following them to go home; upon speaking to Chauntecleer, Russel halts allowing Chauntecleer to escape, flying up into a nearby tree (Chaucer 587-597). Russel tries to entice Chauntecleer to the ground, but Chauntecleer refuses and remains safely distanced from the fox (Chaucer 604-610). This is how the tale ends, with a moral about being wary of negligence and flattery. Chicken Escape Artist (Chicken Escape Artist Image)
  7. 7. The Romantic Hero: Chauntecleer Chauntecleer is Chaucer’s demonstration of a Romantic Hero in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale. The rooster is portrayed as “learned and courtly and, like any adventuring hero, is captured by the villainous fox, and then uses his wits to escape complete destruction” (“Geoffrey Chaucer” 123-124). Like that of any heroic knight, Chauntecleer is learned. He demonstrates a knowledge of stories foretelling one’s demise in the tale as well as of Roman writers (Chaucer 154-161). Chauntecleer shows courtly behavior through his harem of hens, and particularly through his love of his favored companion, Pertelote (Chaucer 357-358). Also, much like that of the hero Sir Gawain in his efforts against the Green Knight, Chauntecleer overcomes his opposition. Chauntecleer Chanticleer and the Fox (Chanticleer manages to escape Russel the fox’s grasp (Chaucer 595-597) just as and the Fox Image) Sir Gawain was able to escape the Green Knight through his honesty (“Sir Gawain” 2352-2353). Though, in both tales each of these two main characters does suffer a small bit: Chauntecleer through his capture in the fox’s jaws (Chaucer 515), and Sir Gawain through the small cut by the Green Knight’s axe (“Sir Gawain” 2354-2357).
  8. 8. Allegory in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale One way to look at the Nun’s Priest’s Tale is to see it as being a mockery of many things. In the tale “The comedy lies initially in the ludicrousness of a cock seeing himself as a learned, heroic figure, like a human, but the satiric bite is in the close identity of man and cock” (Finlayson 497). Chaucer uses romantic ideas like that of “a male figure venturing forth into a spring landscape;” when Chauntecleer wakes and ventures outside on the day Russel the fox snatches him up (Finlayson 505). However, “this story is a beast-fable and a mock-romance, mock-epic, mock philosophic, mock-exemplum, which also mocks its supposed narrator and the uses to which he puts stories (Finlayson 509). Geoffrey Chaucer (Geoffrey Chaucer Image)
  9. 9. Allegory in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale Often, The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is seen as being allegorical for “the alert Christian against the devil/heretic, or as a rewriting of the Fall and Resurrection;” Chauntecleer being the Christian who is tempted by the flatteringly foxy demon in the cabbages (Oerlemans 319). However, it’s noted that Chaucer could be poking fun at those who thought poetry must have some kind of a moral to justify its existence (Oerlemans 319). Following this thought that it mocks poetry for this has some critics saying that The Nun’s Priest’s Tale “reads the reader” causing one to lose their perspective and sense of humor only to sound like the learned, but pompous, Chauntecleer (Oerlemans 319). Illustration of Chanticleer & The Fox (“Illustration of Chanticleer & The Fox”)
  10. 10. Morals in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale The use of a moral at the end of a tale is like what Arthurian Romances employed. Often the stories were told and had to do with some kind of moral at the end. Such as that of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight dealt with honesty saving one’s life The Nun’s Priest’s Tale also deals with a moral or two at the end. There are multiple morals found within this story, for example: there is a cock’s moral that he “learned that one should not shut his eyes when he ought to be alert” (Myers 212) as well as a fox’s moral about how he “learned that one should not speak ‘whan he sholde holde his pees!’” (Myers 212). At the end of the tale the Nun’s Priest says: Lo, swich it is for to be reccheless And necligent and trust on flaterye. But ye that holden this tale a folye As of a fox, or of a cock and a hen, Taketh the moralitee, goode men. For Saint Paul saith that al that is writen is To oure doctrine it is ywrit, ywis: Taketh the fruit, and lat the chaf be stille (Chaucer 616-623). The idea behind this quote is that Saint Paul tells us to take everything and learn from it all especially this story which acts as a “warning against vainglory and naivety” (Shallers 319).
  11. 11. Conclusion Chaucer’s ability as a Romance writer is demonstrated through Chauntecleer as a “hero,” the use of allegory, and morals in his story. Chauntecleer is much like Sir Gawain: being courtly, learned, and in dealing with the villainous fox, Russel (“Geoffrey Chaucer” 123-124). Allegory shows possible interpretations behind Chaucer’s tale in being a mockery of many styles of stories (Finlayson 509) as well as being a mockery of a moral tale which a majority of poetry employed in his era (Oerlemans 319). The tale ends with a moral thought has multiple interpretations in terms of morals one can learn from the tale. The cock learned to be more alert while the fox learned there are times when he should hold his peace (Myers 212). The Romantic genre is categorized by being “a medieval narrative, orig. one in verse and in a Romance language, treating of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events, often in the form of allegory” (“romance”). Chaucer has written The Nun’s Priest’s Tale in verse, discusses a hero, allegory, and employs the use of morale at the end of the tale. These all tie together to demonstrate Chaucer as a Romantic writer through this tale.
  12. 12. Works Cited Chanticleer and the Fox Image. Web. n.d. “Chanticleer and the Fox.” Rainbow Resource Center. 23 Oct. 2013 <http://www.rainbowresource .com/product/Chanticleer+and+the+Fox/011784/4eef1eff675d83b1fc9a7e70?subject=18&category=1360> Canterbury Tales Pilgrimage Image. Web. n.d. “The Canterbury Tales.” Geoffrey Chaucer. 21 Oct. 2013. <> Chaucer Book Image. Web. n.d. “The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.” Books Tell You 22 Oct. 2013. <> Chaucer, Geoffrey. “The Nun's Priest's Tale.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages Volume A. Ed. Steven Greenblatt. New York:W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 326-340. Print. Chicken Escape Artist Image. Web. n.d. “The Canterbury Tales.” The Lost Continent: Exploring the Art and History of British Animation. 22 Oct. 2013. <> Finlayson, John. "Reading Chaucer's Nun's Priest's Tale: Mixed Genres And Multi-Layered Worlds Of Illusion." English Studies 86.6 (2005): 493-510. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. Fox in Cabbages Image. Web. n.d. “The Canterbury Tales.” The Lost Continent: Exploring the Art and History of British Animation. 22 Oct. 2013. <>
  13. 13. Works Cited "Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400)." Arthurian Writers: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008. Google Books. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.< %27s+priest+tale&source=bl&ots=nv6haJoFPM&sig=w2TbBaTqL6uw_lDU6ycSBXiB1ys&hl=en&sa=X&ei= vlBYUs_9Ldex4AOJpIHoAw&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=romance%20and%20chivalry%20in %20chaucer%27s%20work%20nun%27s%20priest%20tale&f=false> Geoffrey Chaucer Image. Web. n.d. “Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340-1400).” Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. 22 Oct. 2013. <> “Illustration of Chanticleer & The Fox.” Web. n.d. “Chaunticleer.” Rabbit Quinn. 23 Oct. 2013. <> Myers, D. E. “Focus and Moralite in the Nun's Priest's Tale.” The Chaucer Review 7.3 (1973): 210-220. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. < uid=3739704&uid=2134&uid=2475292983&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=2475292973&uid=3739256&uid=60 &sid=21102793829183> Nun’s Priest Image. Web. n.d. “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” Geoffrey Chaucer. 22 Oct. 2013. <>
  14. 14. Works Cited Orelemans, Onno. “The Seriousness of the "Nun's Priest's Tale.” The Chaucer Review 26.3 (1992): 317-328. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. < uid=3739704&uid=2134&uid=2475334583&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=2475334573&uid=3739256&uid=60 &sid=21102793937323> "romance." Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary. 2010. 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. 18 Oct. 2013. <> Shallers, A. Paul. “The "Nun's Priest's Tale": An Ironic Exemplum.” ELH 42.3 (1975): 319-337. Web. 18 Oct. 2013. < %2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dallegory%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bnun%2527s%2Bpriest%2527s%2Btale%26acc %3Doff%26wc%3Don%26fc%3Doff&Search=yes&searchText=priest %2527s&searchText=allegory&searchText=tale&searchText=nun %2527s&uid=3739704&uid=2134&uid=2475292983&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=2475292973&u id=3739256&uid=60&sid=21102793829183> “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages Volume A. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 186-238. Print.