Summary and Analysis of The Man of Law's Tale Essay

Summary and Analysis of The Man of Law's Tale Essay

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Summary and Analysis of The Man of Law's Tale

Fragment II

The Words of the Host to the Company and Prologue to the Man of Law's Tale:

The host speaks to the rest of the travelers, telling them that they can regain lost property but not lost time. The host suggests that the lawyer tell the next tale, and he agrees to do so, for he does not intend to break his promises. He says that we ought to keep the laws we give to others. He even refers to Chaucer, who works ignorantly and writes poorly, but at the very least does not write filthy tales of incest. The Man of Law tells the company that he will tell a tale by Chaucer called the tale of Cupid's Saints. The lawyer prepares for the tale he will tell about poverty, and does so in a pretentious and formal manner.


In the prologue to the Man of Law's Tale, Chaucer once again plays with the divergence between the actual author and the narrator of each tale with the lawyer's critical reference to Chaucer, as if he were not the actual architect of the tale's words. The lawyer's critique of Chaucer is playful, little more than a sarcastic jibe at Chaucer's own abilities and a critique of Chaucer's contemporaries not meant to be taken seriously. In fact, little that the lawyer says is momentous or significant. Chaucer portrays the lawyer as pompous and formal, addressing the motley crowd as if he were speaking to the court.

The Man of Law's Tale, Part One:

In Syria there dwelt a company of wealthy traders who made a journey to Rome. After a certain time there, they beheld Constance, the emperor's daughter, who was renowned equally for her goodness and beauty. When the merchants returned to Syria, they reported to the sultan what they had seen; he immediately ...

... middle of paper ...

... ­ Constance survives and remains devoted to her faith. She is thus comparable to biblical characters such as Jonah and Job. Her final reward for her steadfast faith comes when she reunites with both her father and her husband upon her final return to Rome. Even in the fate of Maurice is the influence of Christianity felt. He becomes emperor of Rome only when the pope gives his assent.

Epilogue to the Man of Law's Tale:

The Host praised the Lawyer for his tale, and urged the Parish Priest to tell a tale. The Parson chides the Host for swearing, and he in turn mocks the Parson as a "Jankin" (a contemptuous name for a priest). The Shipman decides that he will tell a tale next. In the fragments that remain of the Canterbury Tales, however, the Shipman's Tale exists later in the manuscripts, in the seventh set of stories. The Wife of Bath's Tale follows instead.

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