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?

April 5th: Re-reading with Kathy Lavezzo

We discussed in class the ways that Jews are demonized in The Prioress’s Tale, and how the nameless boy is contrasted against them through his innocence. What evidence is there in the text to show that the villainous portrayal of Jews (or Judaism as a whole) is not merely used to emphasize the holiness of the boy, but rather deliberate anti-semitism? In what ways, according to Lavezzo, does the Prioress fall short of reality in her attack? After reading Lavezzo’s essay, how would you speculate Chaucer’s intentions for telling the tale?

April 3rd: The Prioress’s Tale

In the Prioress’s Tale, the narrator spreads anti-semitism by telling the victimization of the seven year old boy at the hands of Jews living in the ghetto. In what ways does the Prioress use the boy in contrast to his murderers to push her values on the audience?

Mar. 13th: The Pardoner

What can be interpreted from the Pardoner’s ability to tell an effective moral tale while himself being guilty of the sins he condemns? How do you believe we are supposed to interpret the Pardoner’s offer (904) of salvation in return for money or precious items?