Having never encounter the Man of Law’s Tale, I had no idea what to expect in any portion of the text. That being said, I especially did not expect to have Chaucer take a few moments in the introduction for some self-praise. Now, do not read me wrong here, I appreciate Chaucer as an author and am clearly interested in him as a figure of English being that this is an author-centered class on him, but I want to take a minute to point out a moment of boasting that I found particularly humorous. The Man of Law takes more than a few lines to lament that Chaucer has already told all the stories worth telling. Okay, Chaucer, what are you trying to do here? I believe at one point we discussed that in his time, it was fairly common for a work to be anonymous and for an author to not lay such loud and proud claim on their work – Chaucer not only does that but praises himself as a whole for creating such numerous great texts such that his own character cannot possibly come up with another one to suffice. Talk about patting your own back.
After reading the Reeve’s Tale, I feel compelled to comment on the evident structure of the Canterbury Tales as a whole. My encounters thus far with the Tales have been in very separate instances. To now experience three stories in a row, as they were clearly intended to be received, is a unique and notable experience in and of itself. I am able to say that these stories were clearly intended to be together because of the unique interplay between the characters in the journey and their own characters within their stories. From the Knight’s Tale to the Miller’s mocking and now the Reeve’s response – I have never read a collection so unique; one where characters can come in and out of their different worlds so seamlessly. Every day is a new experience with Chaucer, and my appreciation for his work in the context of our literary history is growing.