The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story
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.
[The Prioress] peyned hire to countrefete chere
Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,
And to ben holden digne of reverence.
(General Prologue 139 – 141)
With the Prioress we have the first of many characters who are pretending to be something they're not. The idea of counterfeiting is a word that also appears when Chaucer talks about his repetition of other pilgrim's words. This shows the way the word can have both negative ("faking") and positive ("repeating") connotations.
This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette:
Ther wiste no wight that he was in dette.
(General Prologue 279 – 280)
Like the Prioress, the Merchant is working really hard to appear to be something he's not: financially solvent. In his case, though, this deception is probably necessary for his business success, whereas for the Prioress it's actually contrary to the obligations of her profession.
Discreet he was and of greet reverence:
He semed swich, his wordes weren so wyse.
"Seeming" is not a good thing in The Canterbury Tales. The appearance of this word usually marks some kind of deception that's going on, someone trying to appear to be something they're not.