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The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Lies and Deceit Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.

Quote #7

And thus, with feyned flaterye and japes,
He made the person and the peple his apes
(General Prologue 705 – 706)

"Japes" are tricks, and here the word is probably referring to the false relics the pardoner passes off as genuine. One person who won't stand for being made an "ape" is the Host, who calls the Pardoner's relics the garbage that they are.

Quote #8

Or elles he moot telle his tale untrewe,
Or feyne thing, or finde wordes newe
(General Prologue 735 – 736)

Here Chaucer says that failing to repeat words as exactly as one heard them is close to lying. Later, in his prologue to the Tale of Melibee, he reverses this position, so it's impossible to say what Chaucer the character really thinks. As for the poet, he has no problem with embellishing and changing often-told tales to suit his purpose.

Quote #9

Four gleedes han we whiche I shal devyse –
Avauntyng, liyng, anger, coveitise;
Thise foure sparkles longen unto eelde
(Reeve's Prologue 29 – 31)

The Reeve describes his four powers of the elderly as "gleedes," or coals, and "sparkles," or sparks. By using fire imagery here, he tries to return the spark of vitality to the elderly, so to speak.

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