Chaucer’s The Prioress

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The Medieval period of The Canterbury Tales is held on April 11, 1387. The writing style of tales are literary skilled. “There is clear evidence in them that Chaucer was familiar with a considerable number of the great book of his time, and it is fairly well established that his writings show a steady increase in his literary skill” (Chaucer xxxvii). Chaucer is a writer of surprise. His stories not only come from plots of other writers but also from his lifetime. “There is of course no explaining where or how Chaucer acquired his ability as a great storyteller. However, the fact that he was a man of affairs as well as a man of books, a civil servant who dealt frequently with people from all walks of life, seem to have had great influence on the writing he did at night when he returned home from the office” (Chaucer xxxv). The Prioress tells an anti-Semitic tale, which reflects her position among the clergy.

The genre of “The Prioress” tale is Miracle of the Virgin which the Virgin Mary miraculously aids a follower in time of need. Chaucer gets his many sources of stories from earlier writers. “Like Shakespeare, Chaucer felt no hesitancy in borrowing materials for his stories from earlier writers” (Chaucer xxxii). Chaucer will take an idea of someone else and turn it into his own. He also uses various forms of writing. Chaucer got the idea of “The Prioress” tale from the legend of Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln. “The Prioress’ Tale, from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is perhaps the most notable among stories which drew from the legend about Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln” (Terry Heath). The setting of this tale takes place in Asia in a large city populated with Christians.

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... she wore a coral rosary with large green beads for the paternosters, from which hung a brightly shining golden brooch. And on this brooch was first inscribed a capital A, surmounted by a crown, and after that Amor vincit omnia” (Chaucer 4). She made her image likeable by others even though it did not follow the vows of being Catholic. “So carefully did she wipe her lips that no trace of grease could be seen in her cup when she had drunk from it. She reached for her food daintily, and truly she was very merry, with a pleasant disposition and an amiable manner” (Chaucer 4). The Prioress was also very sensitive, “if one of her dogs died, or if someone beat it with a stick, she cried bitterly” (Chaucer 4). Though she was very kind and soft. “Her wimple was very neatly pleated, her nose shapely, her eyes blue, and her mouth very small, soft, and red” (Chaucer 4).
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