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Lecture 20

ENGC29 Lecture 20: 11.2 The Canons Yeomans Tale


Department
English
Course Code
ENGC29H3
Professor
Kara Gaston
Lecture
20

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11.2 “The Canon's Yeoman's Tale”
Background
● Thistalespecificallylooksattheconcernsoftheframingnarrative
○ Rememberthatalloftheseraunchyandridiculoustalesaretoldonthewaytoaholyplace:
Canterbury
● Thistalestartsabout5milesoutsideofCanterbury;allofthesuddenaweird,dramaticintrusion
happens
○ Twomenareridingexhaustedhorsesthatcanbarelycontinuetorun;turnsoutthatoneofthe
menisa“canon”oneofthemanypositionsyoucanholdinthechurch
○ Thecanon’syeomanisapeasantthatworksonthecanon’sland(thecanonishisboss)
complainsabouthisbossandtheworkhehastodo
○ Thecanoncomesuptohisyeomanatonepointandtellshimtostopslanderinghisname;the
hosttellstheyeomantocontinuehistaleandthecanonridesoffinanger
● Thetaleispresentedasapersonalconfessionratherthanarememberedormadeupstory
● WhyinterruptandalterthisarrangementChaucercreated?
○ Surprisesthereaderandtakesusoffguard
○ Perhapsdoesn’twanttogivethereadersaneasyconclusion
○ Thinkabouttheintentthey’regoingtowardsaholyplacewhilelisteningtoaconfession
● Attheoutsetthetalesseemtohaveaconcrete,predictablestructure
○ Butevenbeforetheyeomanshowsupthestructureisnotexactlyworkingtheideawasthat
thepilgrimstellonetaleonthewaytoCanterburyandthenanotheronthewayback(which
doesnothappen)
■ Perhapstheyeoman’sconfessioncanbearelease
● Alchemy:
○ Hasafewdifferentaimsandmethodsbigonewastotakeabunchofnonvaluablemetalsand
addinasmallamountofgold/silvertomakemorepreciousmetal
○ Philosopher’sstonewastheultimatecreationsthroughalchemy(mostlyamyth)
The Tale
● Theyeoman’sfacehasbeentransformedintoblackbecausehehadbeensoclosetocoals
○ Goesintoalonglistofalchemicalingredientsandtools
○ “Forallofourwork,wecan’tconclude”
● Whatdoweexpectliststohave?
○ Aunifyingideaoragoalthiscanbequitecomplicated
○ Acertainnumberofthings
○ Simple&shortterms
○ Possiblycategorizationofdifferentpartsofthelist(ex.Inbakingthereis‘wet’and‘dry’
ingredients)
○ Asubstitutionofmemory(ex.Grocerylistsaremadeforrememberingwhattobuy)
○ Thecompositionofsomething(arecipe)
● Thetransformationofabigideaintosmallerterms;transformationofpartsintoawhole;te
transformationofamemory
○ Transformationisatstakeinlists
● Almostalloftheyeoman’slistisglossedbecausealloftheingredientsarestrange
○ Theyeomanalsoexplainswhateachingredientdoes
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