The Canterbury Tales


The Summoner's Tale

As promised, the Summoner responds to the Friar’s tale by telling a story about a corrupt friar. First, he begins by suggesting that the Friar’s tale must be true since friars are known to associate with demons and the Friar could have gotten his story straight from the demon involved. He then launches into a story about a friar who was on a guided tour of Hell. He noticed that there were no friars there and asked the angel whether all friars went to Heaven. The angel responded by asking Satan to lift his tail, and the friar saw thousands of friars near Satan’s butt.

The Summoner then launches into his story about a friar who makes his rounds, offering prayers and salvation in exchange for money, but he neglects to actually pray for people. The friar goes to the home of a wealthy and sick old man named Thomas. He makes lecherous advances toward Thomas’s wife. The wife asks the friar to pray about Thomas’s anger, and then mentions their baby, who recently died, and the friar says the he and the other friars have seen the baby being taken to Heaven. However, the friar’s main focus is Thomas, and he begins to lecture Thomas about the dangers of wealth. He tells Thomas that he should give all of his money to the friars. Remembering what the wife said about Thomas’s anger, the friar begins to preach to Thomas about anger, which enrages Thomas. Thomas replies by saying that he has a gift for the friars, which should be shared equally with the friars at the convent. Thomas says that he is sitting on the gift and that the friar should reach under him for it. The friar does so, and when his hand is beneath Thomas, the old man farts on him. The friar leaves and goes to the home of a wealthy lord, complaining about the fart. Oddly enough, his complaint is more focused on the fact that he has been instructed to divide the fart than on the fact that Thomas farted on him. A servant in the home launches into a witty explanation of how the fart can be divided, which amuses everyone present except for the friar.

While the Friar’s...

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