The Nun's Priest's Tale

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Chaucer's "The Nun's Priest's Tale" is at once a fable, a tale of courtly love, and a satire mocking fables and courtly love traditions. To this end, Chaucer makes use of several stylistic techniques involving both framing and content. The tale begins and ends with "a poor widwe somdeel stape in age" (line 1), but the majority of the content involves not the widow but the animals on her farm, in particular an arrogant rooster name Chauntecleer. The first mention of the main character does not come until the twenty-ninth line, after twenty-eight lines of minute description of the widow and the farm. The donation of large amounts of time to detail slows down the plot of the story; this plot is even further drawn out by the Nun's Priest's constant interjections, which are mostly delivered in very formal language. Chaucer's use of abundant narrative intrusion and profuse attention to detail create a story in which the plot is marginalized and traditional structures broken, the result of which is an ambience where the absurdity of fable and courtly love can easily come to light.

The Nun's Priest's tale begins with the mention of a poor old widow living in a cottage. The majority of the first page of the short story deals with the details of this woman's life. Only after every detail of her person and her farm has been revealed is the main character, Chauntecleer, introduced. The story also returns the focus to the woman at its end. The framing of the story is such that the events of the story all occur within the confines of this woman's life. This clever framing does not allow the reader to adequately realize the characters in the story; they are, at any given point in the story, less than human. The high language and content of the story quickly deflates when one realizes that Chauntecleer is nothing more than a rooster on a farm owned by a humble old widow, and the fox nothing more than a hungry wild animal on the prowl. Chaucer effectively mocks the...
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