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Discussion - Canterbury Tales > Week 7 - The Summoner's Tale

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Having been skewered by the Friar, the Summoner takes great delight in firing back as good as he got. Like Chaucer's Friar, the friar of the Summoner's story is a limiter, which means that he has license to beg within a certain specified geographic area.

This tale seems to me somewhat richer and better developed than the Summoner's tale. Thomas certainly gives back nicely to Friar John for his incessant badgering of Thomas for more and money. And Jankin's proposal for divvying up Thomas's, uh, gift is certainly creative!

Which teller do you think scores the most points in this exchange? Which (if either) tale did you find more amusing?

There also seems a faint echo of the Monk's tale in the inclusion of three short moral tales.


message 2: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 250 comments Everyman wrote: "Which teller do you think scores the most points in this exchange? Which (if either) tale did you find more amusing? ..."

I think the summoners tale is more amusing hands down. The Friar may have been humorous -- but it was also a sermon and a warning, in my view. The Friar, while needling the Summoner and calling him stupid---is at the very same time preaching to him about sin, repentance, and consequences...and there is definitely hypocrisy in that.

I think the Summoner's reply is brilliant. I think he definitely gets the upper hand on this one. Could there be a more perfect response to hypocrisy?

I thought the story was so funny I read it aloud to my wife. Who didn't appreciate the humor at all.


message 3: by MadgeUK (last edited Feb 19, 2011 02:42AM) (new)

MadgeUK Yes, very funny in a schoolboy sort of way, if you know what I mean:). There is a lot of anality in the story which seems to hark back to the General Prologue's hint that the Summoner and Pardoner might be engaged in a homosexual relationship ('I trowe he were a gelding or a mare'), although the Pardoner could also be a eunoch, with 'A voice he had as small as hath a goat/No beard had he, nor never should have'.

My Notes say: 'The most significant pun in the tale is the most interesting. The friar in the tale berates Thomas, telling him that a “ferthyng” (a farthing coin) is not worth anything split into twelve; and, then, of course, he is paid for the tales he then tells with a farting, which he must split into twelve. The two words were likely homonyms in Middle English, and the punning extends the idea of quitting – which structures this tale and the Friar’s as a pair – down into the fabric of the tale itself.

William Blake's portrait of the Pardoner is amusing:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wil...

Thoughts anyone?


message 4: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 250 comments MadgeUK wrote: "There is a lot of anality in the story which seems to hark back to the General Prologue's hint that the Summoner and Pardoner might be engaged in a homosexual relationship.."

I'd be surprised if this story is meant to show the summoner as an anally enamored man; homosexual or not. He seems more to be using the most disgusting subject matter he can think of to reflect his anger for the friar.


message 5: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Unfortunately, there was no toleration for homosexuals in Chaucer's day Bill so perhaps Chaucer is deliberately using such subject matter to show such intolerance?


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I thought the story was so funny I read it aloud to my wife. Who didn't appreciate the humor at all.
"


I read your comment to my wife, who is very much like yours and very seldom thinks the things I read aloud to her are nearly as funny as I do. She sends he understanding and sympathy to your wife.


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Bill wrote: "I'd be surprised if this story is meant to show the summoner as an anally enamored man; homosexual or not. He seems more to be using the most disgusting subject matter he can think of to reflect his anger for the friar.
"


I didn't see it there, either. Maybe we're both dense. Or maybe others like to read into things thoughts which support their view of the times. We'll never know what Chaucer intended, but in this case, I don't see it.


message 8: by MadgeUK (last edited Feb 20, 2011 05:42AM) (new)

MadgeUK I agree that there is some ambiguity and that a eunoch may also fit the lines often commented upon as referring to homosexuality: 'I trowe he were a gelding or a mare' and 'A voice he had as small as hath a goat/No beard had he, nor never should have', together with the many anal references in the tale. He could also be a hermaphrodite or a transvestite, which Blake's illustration seems to infer. It is difficult to avoid an unusual sexual connotation given Chaucer's description. How do others interpret those lines?

http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl...

Why does the idea support a 'view of the times' since homosexuality was both of their times and ours? Its illegality did not prevent it happening, then or now.


message 9: by Sasha (new)

Sasha MadgeUK wrote: "Yes, very funny in a schoolboy sort of way, if you know what I mean:). There is a lot of anality in the story which seems to hark back to the General Prologue's hint that the Summoner and Pardoner..."

I thought at first it was a woman! So feminine, and the bottom of the cross on his robe (dress) looks like an arrow pointing to his....bottom. Teehee, as Alison would say


message 10: by Sasha (new)

Sasha And, looking more closely, it looks like a tail! Very funny.


message 11: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Yes, and the cross is also upside down and he is facing backwards, both possible allusions, by Blake, to his 'perversity'.


message 12: by Bill (last edited Feb 21, 2011 12:02PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 250 comments Everyman wrote: "I read your comment to my wife, who is very much like yours and very seldom thinks the things I read aloud to her are nearly as funny as I do. She sends he understanding and sympathy to your wife..."

I had missed this comment earlier, Everyman, and just noticed it now. I accept your wife's sympathies on behalf of my wife.

Maybe you and I should stop torturing our wives eh?


message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Bill wrote: "Maybe you and I should stop torturing our wives eh?
..."


I don't know -- I think a bit of it is good for them!


message 14: by Bill (last edited Feb 21, 2011 12:34PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 250 comments Everyman wrote: "I think a bit of it is good for them!"

You're right. The inability to appreciate the artistry which went into this elaborate fart joke begs to be cured by repeated readings and commentary on it.

And if a cure isn't forthcoming it can only be because of an obstinacy that, in itself, warrants punishment by yet another, perhaps slower, and more carefully explained, reading.


message 15: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Accompanied by suitable sound effects? :)


message 16: by Bill (last edited Feb 21, 2011 04:03PM) (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 250 comments MadgeUK wrote: "Accompanied by suitable sound effects? :)"

There is a range of implications in your question, Madge. One of which is that you think this story is not much more then an elaborate fart noise??


message 17: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK Not exactly but I find it very 'male' and little boyish:).


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