Classics and the Western Canon discussion

Discussion - Canterbury Tales > Week 9 - The Manciple's Tale

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments We have an amusing episode as prologue, with the Manciple abusing the Cook, who is so drunk he falls off his horse as he tries to take a swing at the Manciple. (This is perhaps a good place to raise the question, do the prologues have an important role to play in the progress of the tales, or are they primarily a stitching to keep the frame tale active and provide a break, and usually a bit of levity, between the tales?)

At any rate, the Manciple, who is described to us in the Prologue as a cheat and a swindler, takes the Cook's place as the next tale teller.

The story of the crow derives originally from Ovid (where it was a raven), bringing us back to the ancient Greek venue, but is significantly changed over subsequent retellings and even more by Chaucer. But once again, we are visited by a tale of a woman's infidelity, but this time, contrary to for example the Miller's and Reeve's tales, the wife does not "get away with it." (The wife is more an impersonal element than a real character in the tale, isn't she? She isn't even given a name!)

An interesting aspect here is that it combines the elements of cuckoldry with divine magic (or miracle), combining two themes we have visited before, with significant detours into the problem of keeping women under wraps and, a point which surely was familiar to a highly class-stratified society, the differences in ways that upper and lower class women are referred to. (Has anybody here ever called a woman, or heard a woman called, a lemman?)

As a tale, the tale seems to me thin, with the crow being perhaps the most interesting, most fully developed character in it. Is there richness here that I am missing?

message 2: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 250 comments Everyman wrote: "Is there richness here that I am missing? .."

It seems the moral of the story is don't tell a man his that another man "has enjoyed his wife". The man isn't going to appreciate this favor.

back to top