There is no doubting Chaucer’s mastery at paroemia; that his adaptations of his many and varied sources transcended their roots is attested by the fact that, unlike many of his contemporaries or authorities, his works have not “passen as dooth a shadwe upon the wal”. Yet while his skill as a medieval author is undisputed, the extent of his subtlety is not always fully appreciated. In The Canterbury Tales, for instance, while some tales were rapid in drawing academic interest and scholarly interpretations, others were quickly dismissed as ribald tales, as simple fabliaux hardly worthy of more than a cursory examination.
The Shipman’s Tale was one of these. That “[It] may be Chaucer’s earliest fabliau” and “relatively simple in design and execution” seemed, for a period of time, to be the general consensus on this piece; the primary concern of scholars was in unearthing its sources (which proved to be uncharacteristically problematic), not in analysing its structural complexities or for insights into medieval society and life. Yet recent research has renewed interest in this first tale from The Canterbury Tales’ Fragment VII, and it can now be seen as a fabliaux, yes, but as one that is as rich a tapestry – woven of biblical allusions, literary techniques, intertextuality, and social commentary – as any of the other tales. By pulling out and examining the care and skill with which Chaucer inserted just one of these multiple threads – in this case, the biblical allusions within The Shipman’s Tale – it can be shown that this is as significant a tale as any other.
There are a limited number of methods by which Chaucer can integrate a biblical all...
... middle of paper ...
...timis finibus pretium eius.” ; “Who shall find a valiant woman? far and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her.” (Douay Translation).
Theresa Coletti, in “The Meeting at the Gate: Comic Hagiography and Symbol in The Shipman’s Tale”, associates the meeting of the merchant and his wife at the household gate (after his successful business venture) with the meeting of Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem. Assuming that the apocryphal tale was well known, Chaucer’s audience would have recognized the iconographic significance of a meeting by a gate. Gail McMurray Gibson, in “Resurrection as Dramatic Icon in the Shipman’s Tale” in Signs and Symbols in Chaucer’s Poetry, suggests that the tale alludes to the Resurrection, especially via Christ’s meeting with Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a copy of that work for this essay.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Marriage as Portrayed in The Merchants Prologue and Tale The story of Januarie's marriage to May and her subsequent infidelity with Damyan allows for not only Chaucer's view of marriage to come through, but also includes the opinions of contemporary writers. Chaucer allows his views to be made known as the narrator and his views could also be said to infiltrate the speeches of the Merchant. Justinus and Placebo's views are also accounted for as the fictional characters also air their opinions on the institution of marriage.... [tags: The Merchant's Tale]
1204 words (3.4 pages)
- Linking Griselda of The Clerk's Tale and the Biblical Sacrifice of Abraham The Clerk's Tale seems to strike most readers as a distasteful representation of corrupt sovereignty and emotional sadism; few can find any value in Walter's incessant urge to test his wife's constancy, and the sense that woman is built for suffering is fairly revolting to most modern sensibilities. Nevill Coghill, for instance, described the tale as "too cruel, too incredible a story," and he notes that "even Chaucer could not stand it and had to write his marvelously versified ironic disclaimer" (104-5).... [tags: Clerk's Tale Essays]
1867 words (5.3 pages)
- The Modern and Mediaeval Merchant's Tale "The Merchant's Prologue and Tale" is mainly concerned with the infidelity of May while she is married to Januarie. Infidelity is undoubtedly a popular topic for discussion in modern times and is often the subject of magazine or television stories. Despite the concern with marriage and the status of men and women within such a relationship keeping the story applicable to the audience even more than 600 years later, there are many elements of the Prologue and Tale which root them in a mediaeval context.... [tags: The Merchant's Tale]
960 words (2.7 pages)
- Use of Variety in The Merchant's Tale The Merchant's Tale tells the story of an old man searching for a wife and finding one, who is ultimately unfaithful to him. Chaucer uses a variety of elements in the poem to show his knowledge of contemporary interests and his story telling capacity through another figure. Irony flows through the poem, laced with allusions to the Bible. Chaucer's use of his astronomical knowledge not only allows modern day scholars to date events, but also adds another dimension of interest for the contemporary audience and of course, the pilgrims.... [tags: The Merchant's Tale]
1150 words (3.3 pages)
- Effective Use of Menace in The Merchant's Tale Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Merchant's Tale" uses menace to reinforce many of the themes within the Tale and it is present in more areas than simply Januarie. There is menacing imagery adding tension to the Tale and the way in which the Tale is written often reiterates that. Menaces comes through more than plain threat, it is evident in such ideas as Januarie's inappropriate search for a wife. The way in which Januarie bases his search for a wife on concern for his own salvation and economic interests is menacing as it is a foreboding image for the rest of the marriage.... [tags: Merchant's Tale Essays]
792 words (2.3 pages)
- Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale The Wife of Bath, with the energy of her vernacular and the voraciousness of her sexual appetite, is one of the most vividly developed characters of 'The Canterbury Tales'. At 856 lines her prologue, or 'preambulacioun' as the Summoner calls it, is the longest of any of the pilgrims, and matches the General Prologue but for a few lines. Evidently Chaucer is infatuated with Alisoun, as he plays satirically with both gender and class issues through the Wife's robust rhetoric.... [tags: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales]
2166 words (6.2 pages)
- In The Town-Ho’s Story, Melville uses many different types of figurative devices to describe the relationship between Steelkilt and Radney. Radney is known and described as the inferior, yet higher ranked, mate, while Steelkilt is described as the more respectable, but lower ranked mate. Melville faintly, yet noticeably relates Moby Dick as a God and Steelkilt as Jesus. Such clever biblical allusions accurately describe Moby Dick and Steelkilt and although Melville does not give any biblical significance to Radney, the readers can still clearly visualize Radney’s character.... [tags: Biblical Allusions, Melville, Moby Dick,]
689 words (2 pages)
- The Handmaid's Tale: A Biblical Allusion Imagine a country where choice is not a choice. One is labeled by their age and economical status. The deep red cloaks, the blue embroidered dresses, and the pinstriped attire are all uniforms to define a person's standing in society. To be judged, not by beauty or personality or talents, but by the ability to procreate instead. To not believe in the Puritan religion is certain death. To read or write is to die. This definition is found to be true in the book, The Handmaid's Tale (1986) by Margaret Atwood.... [tags: Handmaid's Tale Essays]
1456 words (4.2 pages)
- Biblical Reference in The Clerk's Tale In 1921, Vance Palmer, the famous Australian author and poet, noted, in his essay titled "On Boundaries", that "it is the business of thought to define things, to find the boundaries; thought, indeed, is a ceaseless process of definition" (Palmer 134). As Palmer noted, humans, by their very nature, attempt to define all things. But, more than that, we attempt to redefine subjects and ideas that have already been defined so that we can better understand what they mean, where we came from, and, perhaps most importantly of all, who we are. Writers, from the beginning of the written word through the present, have, almost in their entirety, str... [tags: Clerk's Tale Essays]
2725 words (7.8 pages)
- In his prologue, Chaucer introduces all of the characters who are involved in this fictional journey and who will tell the tales. One of the most interesting of the characters introduced is the Knight. Chaucer refers to the Knight as “a most distinguished man” and, indeed, his sketch of the Knight is highly complimentary. Another Knight seen in the “Canterbury Tales” is the rapist knight in the Wife of Bath’s Tale, who is not a very noble knight and doesn’t follow a chivalric code. This knight seems more realistic as opposed to the stereotypical ideal knight that Chaucer describes in the Prologue.... [tags: Chaucer Knight's Tale Essays]
1039 words (3 pages)