April 17th: The Manciple’s Tale

In The Manciple’s Tale, voice and power are closely related, with the Manciple concluding that one must act responsibly with their words (or their silence) to avoid unnecessary provocation. In the Open Access Companion, Myra Seaman notes the voiceless, drunken Cook, who is unable to deliver a tale when asked to by the Host. Because of this voicelessness, the Manciple criticizes his indulgent behavior, but tells a tale that delivers a contradictory message. Much like the bird using his newfound ability to talk to reveal the Phebus’s social misdemeanor (his cuckoldry), the Manciple uses his opportunity to rebuke the Cook for his. In what other ways do the events and characters of the story highlight the Manciple’s hypocrisy? Does the message of the tale undermine the speaker, or is there also advocacy for maintaining one’s voice?

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