Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a collection of several tales that are all told by different characters and all convey different messages. The story presented in the general prologue is that a group of pilgrims is traveling to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, and during their journey they take turns telling tales and talking about themselves. Chaucer uses the pilgrims to express his beliefs, about religion, marriage, social class, and many other topics. One of the pilgrims is the Manciple, who is a commoner and has the job of providing supplies for an institution and in this case, he is the caterer for a group of lawyers. Through the character of the Manciple, his prologue, and his tale, Chaucer showcases the importance of silence and discretion of speech, or by what some assume as to reveal the instability of the Manciple’s character.
In the “General Prologue” of the Canterbury Tales, the Manciple is described as being quiet, wise, and somewhat of a role model, but as the general prologue progresses, it can be assumed that he is sneaky and dishonest. For instance, “All caters might follow his example/ In buying victuals; he was never rash/ Whether he bought on credit or paid cash” (Chaucer, “General Prologue” 586-588). Chancer starts to say that people can resort to the Manciple for help in buying supplies and that he is careful with his money, always paying attention to what he has. He is said to work for the Inn of Courts, a law school, where he assists lawyers by preparing their meals. Chaucer describes his as being so sharp-witted that he can even swindle those who he works for, “That swich a lewed mannes wit shal pace/ The wisdom of an heep of lerned men?” (Chaucer, “General Prologue”. It can be inferr...

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...he conversation in his Prologue and the tale he shares. Though in the end Chaucer used the character of the Manciple, the General Prologue, the Manciple’s Prologue, and the Manciple’s Tale to convey the importance of silence and discretion of speech. It may have seemed as though Chaucer’s writing was long and flawed because of his age but the irony of speech is just how Chaucer conveyed his point.

Works Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. “General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales.” British Literature. Eds. Janet Alan, et.al. Evanston: McDougal Littel, 2009, 140-62. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. “The Manciple’s Prologue,” The Canterbury Tales. 14 March 2014. Handout.
Chaucer, Geoffrey . “The Manciple’s Tale,” The Canterbury Tales. 14 March 2014. Handout
Rossignol, Rosalyn.. "’The Manciple's Tale’" Bloom's Literature. 14 March 2014. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
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