WHEN PIGS FLY!!!
Throughout the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, participants of the pilgrimage tell stories to entertain one another. These stories, while amusing, tend to have an underlying message, one being the Franklin’s Tale. The Franklin’s Tale is the most moral tale that has been read. It is not told to make the other pilgrims laugh, rather to explain an extremely important lesson. Throughout life, people say many things that are meant to be taken with a grain of salt and not literally, like “Sure I’ll buy you a car….WHEN PIGS FLY!!!” Well, what would happen if one day pigs did fly? Would the promise be honored? Would it even have been considered a promise? The Franklin effectively illustrates the danger of making such statements in a tale about a man who takes a comment, made in jest, literally.
In order to understand the tale, it is necessary to grasp the nature of the Franklin. The Franklin, as described in the Prologue, is “white as a daisy-petal his beard./ A sanguine man, high-coloured and benign.” (p. 12). Before the tales of the pilgrims are actually told, Chaucer gives the reader a description of each pilgrim in order to understand the tales from the point of view of each pilgrim. Chaucer creates an affable and pious man with his portrait of the Franklin. The Franklin is a very pure man who is wealthy and kind to all. He has a delicate and plentiful taste for food and wine and is very hospitable. “He made his household free to all the County.” (p. 12) The Franklin is portrayed as an ideal and righteous noble, unlike most other nobles who are corrupt and take advantage of their wealth and power. Chaucer concludes with one line that effectively characterizes the Franklin; “He was a model among landed gentry.” (p. 12). For every other participant of the pilgrimage, Chaucer has some satirical comment about them. Why should the Franklin be any different? There is nothing wrong with the ways of the Franklin except for the fact that he is incredibly pretentious. The Franklin takes his wealth for granted and shows it off to everyone. However, his pompousness should not detract from the story. Although he may by arrogant, he still appears to be incredibly wise and pure. Why does Chaucer speak so highly of the Franklin and spend so much time developing his purity and righteousness? Chaucer uses such eloquent and florid description of the Franklin because he wants to convey to the reader that the Franklin is an honest, wise, and decent man that can be trusted and learned from. In Chaucer’s introduction of the Miller, the Miller is represented as a senile old man and then the Miller proceeds to tell a spiteful story. Therefore, concluding that the description of a character directly relates to his tale and its credibility, in his introduction to the Franklin, Chaucer foreshadows, by illustrating the his purity, that the Franklin will have a very powerful and meaningful tale to share with the pilgrims and to the reader.
Before the Franklin begins his story, he lets the whole travelling body know that he is not incredibly skilled in the art of rhetoric, and therefore his tale will not be as engaging as some of the others were. However, the Franklin, aware of the merit of his tale, concludes his introduction by saying “’Colors of rhetoric’ to me seem quaint,/ I have no feeling for such things.” (P. 409). Colors of rhetoric are the superfluous detail and style of speech. The Franklin is indicating that while grave detail and listener involvement may make his speech more appealing to the group, his tale exists not to only entertain them, but to teach them a very important lesson too. The Franklin seems to be someone who does everything for a reason. As indicated in the Prologue, the Franklin has an expensive and exotic palate for food and he eats food not for the...
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