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Lecture 13

ENGC29 Lecture 13: 7.2 The Summoners Tale


Department
English
Course Code
ENGC29H3
Professor
Kara Gaston
Lecture
13

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7.2 “The Summoner's Tale”
“The Friar’s Tale” (cont.): Intent
● intentissubjectiveyoucanneverreallypinpointexactlywhatsomeone’sintentis
○ thefunnythingisthatChaucerwrotethepoem,soyouwouldimaginethepoemitselfishis
intent;butit’smuchmorecomplicatedthanthat
● fordeceasedauthorslikeChaucer,youcannotaskthemdirectlywhattheirintentis
○ there’salsotheproblemofhistoryitselfmedievalthinkingisnotthesameasmodernthinking
● people’sintentsarealsosubjecttochangetheSummonerintendstobefriendswiththedemon,until
thedemondecidestobringhimtohell
● rhetoricaltrickavoidingthecategoryofsaying“Chaucerdidx…”bysaying“thepoemdidx…”
○ butistalkingaboutthepoeminsteadoftheauthoractuallyseparatingthetwo?
● intentionalfallacy:takingtheroleofreadingandtryingtoimposeanintentonthetext(insteadof
readinganddiscoveringanintent)
“The Summoner’s Tale” Overview
● theSummonerisoutragedabouttheFriar’stale(understandably)soangrythathe’s“shakinglikean
aspenleaf”
● friarsareaboutgoingaroundwithoutpossessionsbeggingformoney
● prologuesminitale:
○ aFriartakesavisionarytriptohell;doesn'tseeanyFriarsandthinkingthey’resogoodthatthey
don’tbelonginhell
○ insteadthedemonshowshimSatan,andrevealsthefriarsarecrawlingaroundonSatan’sbutt
● maintale:
○ friargoestothehouseofThomas,sayinghe’lltakeconfessionandblessthefamily
■ he’sofferedfood;sayshecouldn’tpossiblyeatanything,butasksforthebestfoodthey
have(liver,softbread,apig’shead)he’scorrupt
○ usespositionspreadinggospelbytellingpeoplewhytheyshouldgivemoneytofriars;argues
thathehadbeenprayingfortwoweeks,andthatfriarprayersarethemostpowerful
■ hissermonwasbasedontheBible’s‘gloss’Summoner’sargumentinhistaleisthat
Friar’sactuallydon’treadtheHolyBook;theyengagewiththesecondarytextbutnotthe
primarytext
■ friargoestotheglosstomakeargumentsabouthislifestyle
○ friarispreachingtoasickThomas,whogetsangrierandangrier
■ Thomassayshe’llgivethefriarmoney,butthefriarhastotakeitfromhim;saysthe
moneyishiddenunderThomas’backinhissickbedonconditionthatfriarsharesthe
moneywithhisbrothers
■ tellsfriartoreachpasthisbuttforthemoneyThomasletsoutthebiggestfartrighton
thefriar’shand
○ friarrunsofftocomplaintotheLord
■ buthehadsworntodividethe‘riches’among12brothers;howdoyoudivideafart?
■ Lordexplainsafart/soundisjustareverterbrationthatfadesaway
■ solution:wagonwheelwith12spokesyougetthe12friarsplustheoriginalfriaratthe
endofeachspokewiththeirnosestothewheel;thenyouputThomasontopofthe
wheelinthecentersohecanfarttoallthefriars
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