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Lecture 22

ENGC29 Lecture 22: 12.2 The Parsons Tale


Department
English
Course Code
ENGC29H3
Professor
Kara Gaston
Lecture
22

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12.2 “The Parson’s Tale”
Endings
● RememberthatTheCanterburyTales
islargelyunfinishednotallofthepilgrimstelltheirtale,and
therewassupposetobeareturnjourneywithmoreasecondstoryfromeveryone
○ Chaucerisveryfamousforbeingbadatendinghistales,andifhedoesendthemtheendings
areambiguous
● Whatweexpectinanending?
○ Somethingthatacknowledgesthemainpointofthestoryoverall;shouldinasenserepeatwhat
camebeforeandwrapup
○ Orcouldbeambiguousandleavethereaderthinkingthatthere’ssomethingmore;Interpretive
space;anopenendedending
○ Somesortofresolvingthatsatisfiestheaudience;makesadefinitivestatement
○ Shouldbeequallyasepicasthestoryoverall
○ Desiringrelationshiptoendingsyouwanttoseewhathappens
“The Parson’s Prologue”
● Startswithaverycomplicatedwayofdescribingthetimeofdayandthedate
○ ThesuniswelldescendedinApril,thatmeansabout4:00pm;thepilgrimsareridingwestto
eastsotheirshadowsareinfrontofthem(whichiswhytheirshadowsareverylong)
○ Givesusthisdetailbutthenjusttellsusthetimeinsteadoflettingusfigureitout
○ Libra:medievalpeoplethoughttheconstellationscircledtheeartheveryday;soLibra’sspaceis
risingoverthehorizon(whereitwouldbeifyoucouldseethestars)
○ IfLibraisonthehorizonat4pminApril,thenitisApril15th17thin1394;April17thofthisyear
isGoodFriday
■ ButApril18thiswhenthepilgrimsleftLondonthereisnowaytheycouldhavegottento
Canterburyinoneday;doesthismatter?
■ Theconstellationcalculationsareusuallyverypreciseanddetailed,butverywrongor
don’tmakesensethisisaChaucerianmodeinpoetry
● TheParson’staleismuchtoolongtobesaidrightoutsideofCanterbury
○ Wecanthinkoftimechronologically,orthinkoftimeasanopportunity
“The Parson’s Tale”
● Thehostsayseveryonehastoldataleexceptforthepriest(false,becausenoteveryonehassaid
something)
○ Saystounbucklehispouchkindofcrudeandrudetothepriestwhiletheyridetoaholyplace
○ Asksforafable
● Theparsonanswersingreatseriousnessthathewillnotsayafablebecauseithassomefalseness,
andlyingisbad;butsayshe’llgiveataleofmoralityaswell
○ CitesSt.Paul’slettertoTimothythesamecitingusedinthe“NunPriest’sTale”
● Chaucerthrowssomeshadeoverotherpoetsfromhistimetalksaboutalliterativemetre
○ Getsaformofunityfromalliteration(ex.SirGawainfromTheGreenKnight
)
○ Sayshe’sfromtheprestigiouspoetsocietyunlikethosethatusealliteration
● TheParsonrepeatsoverandoverthathewillonlyspeakinsentenceframesthetextasanending;
doesitliveuptotheanthology?
○ Doescomefullcircle“TheKnight’sTale”wasaboutbeinggoodandhonourable
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