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Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay

1338 words - 5 pages

Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a collection of several tales that are all told by different characters and all convey different messages. The story presented in the general prologue is that a group of pilgrims is traveling to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, and during their journey they take turns telling tales and talking about themselves. Chaucer uses the pilgrims to express his beliefs, about religion, marriage, social class, and many other topics. One of the pilgrims is the Manciple, who is a commoner and has the job of providing supplies for an institution and in this case, he is the caterer for a group of lawyers. Through the character of the Manciple, his prologue, and his tale, Chaucer showcases the importance of silence and discretion of speech, or by what some assume as to reveal the instability of the Manciple’s character.
In the “General Prologue” of the Canterbury Tales, the Manciple is described as being quiet, wise, and somewhat of a role model, but as the general prologue progresses, it can be assumed that he is sneaky and dishonest. For instance, “All caters might follow his example/ In buying victuals; he was never rash/ Whether he bought on credit or paid cash” (Chaucer, “General Prologue” 586-588). Chancer starts to say that people can resort to the Manciple for help in buying supplies and that he is careful with his money, always paying attention to what he has. He is said to work for the Inn of Courts, a law school, where he assists lawyers by preparing their meals. Chaucer describes his as being so sharp-witted that he can even swindle those who he works for, “That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace/ The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?” (Chaucer, “General Prologue”. It can be inferred that he is someone who takes in his surroundings and uses them as strengths.
“The Manciple’s Prologue” at first glance seems to not connect with the Manciple’s tale but in actuality, the connection is just subtle. In the prologue, the Host first makes fun of the Cook for being so dazed, and then the Manciple making fun of him, saying the Cook has stinky breath, this angers the Cook, who ends up falling off his horse. After the Cook is back on his horse, the Host tells the Manciple “'Some day he’ll get revenge, you may be sure,/ And call you like a falcon to the lure '” (Chaucer “The Manciple’s Prologue” 71-72), The Manciple is alarmed at this warning and gives the Cook wine as in apology and in hopes of not causing future problems. . Since the Manciple was so alarmed, it is inevitable that the Manciple has secrets that the Cook knows about, as the Cook prepares the food that the Manciple caters to the lawyers. The message of the prologue is to be careful of what one says and how much is said. The Manciple takes the Host’s warning and incorporates it into his tale
The Manciple’s tale is about Phoebus Apollo, the god of light, who is described as being perfect in every way. He had a white crow, which he taught...

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