“The Man of Law’s Tale” 9/29

Chaucer’s “The Man of Law’s Tale” certainly diverted my expectations. From the description of the Man of Law in the “General Prologue,” I hardly expected a tale centered around religion. In the “General Prologue,” the narrator describes the Man of Law, saying, “Ther was also, ful riche of excellence . . . / Therto he koude endite and make a thyng / Ther koude no wight pynche at his writyng . . .” (311-326). The Man of Law is an educated and skilled writer. Surely, he can come up with a wonderful story. However, the Man of Law says the only story he has is one he heard from some merchants. I think it is interesting that he chooses not to tell an original story. It may reflect the nature of his character; he uses law and various related texts for his occupation. As a result, it can be said that the Man of Law uses outside resources for his personal benefit.

I also think it is interesting that in the tale, Sathan acts in the place of Fortune. The Man of Law says, “Sathan, that evere us waiteth to bigile, / Saugh of Custance al hire perfeccioun, / And caste anon how he myghte quite hir while . .” (582-584). Instead of Fortune’s wheel, where you may rise to good or fall to bad fortune, Sathan only exists to trick and harm. However, it only makes sense to have Sathan as a greater force because this tale is told in a Christian context.

“The Reeve’s Tale” 9/24

Though “The Miller’s Tale” is well-received among the pilgrims, Osewold, the Reeve, takes personal offense to the tale’s foolish carpenter and uses his tale to get revenge on the Miller. Much like an evil villain announcing his plans, Osewold says, “‘This dronke Millere hath ytoold us heer / How that bigyled was a carpenteer, / Peraventure in scorn, for I am oon. / And, by youre leve, I shal hym quite anoon . . .’” (3913-3916). Since the Reeve was once a carpenter, he finds it only fair to tell a tale about a miller. The Reeve’s tale is no less crude than the Miller’s, but it is certainly less humorous. It stinks of bitter old man. Throughout the tale, the Reeve uses the students, John and Aleyne, to assert his dislike for the Miller. Before sleeping with the miller’s daughter, Aleyne says, “‘I counte hym [the miller] nat a flye’” (4192). Personally, I think the Reeve wasted his chance to win over the other pilgrims. Their objective is to tell the most entertaining story. Though the verbal jabs at the Miller are, at times, entertaining, “The Reeve’s Tale” is too heavy with his bitter tone.