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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 #1

[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.

Quote #2

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.

Quote #3

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.

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