The Canterbury Tales


The Nun's Priest's Tale

When the Monk completes his tale, Nun’s Priest is called upon to tell his tale. Until this point, the Host has been asking people to tell a merry tale. The Knight joins in the Host’s requests and asks that someone tell a happy story. The Host picks the Nun’s Priest as the next to tell a tale, and he agrees to tell a happy story. He tells the story of Chanticleer the Rooster, which is perhaps one of the best-known tales from The Canterbury Tales.

Chanticleer is a beautiful rooster with an impressive crow that makes him the head of the farmyard. He has seven hen wives, but his favorite wife is a hen named Pertelote, who is as beautiful as Chanticleer is handsome. Chanticleer has a dream that an orange doglike animal is threatening to kill him. He tells Pertelote about the dream, and she chastises him for allowing a dream to disturb him. She thinks that he is having dreams because he is ill, and promises to try to find an herb to heal him. Chanticleer feels as if his dream was important and tries to convince her of that, telling her stories about men who have dreamed of murder and then discovered murder. He worries that by dreaming that he has been killed, he will end up dead.

On a day in May, Chanticleer reflects upon his perfect life, and is then hit with a wave of inexplicable sadness. That night, an orange fox stalks Chanticleer and his wives. Chanticleer notices that the fox is stalking his family and goes to confront him, but the fox tells him that he has no reason to fear him. The fox begins to admire Chanticleer’s singing, and Chanticleer falls vulnerable to the flattery and begins to sing for the fox. He closes his eyes while crowing, which gives the fox the chance to grab him. The fox carries Chanticleer to the woods. When Pertelote discovers that Chanticleer is missing, she burns herself and begins wailing in grief. Pertelote’s wails get the attention of the widow who owns the chickens. The widow and her daughters see that the fox is running away with Chanticleer. They send the dogs after the fox. Chanticleer sees...

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