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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 Literature and Writing Quotes

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

Quote #16

Myn eres aken of thy drasty speche!
Now swich a rym the devel I biteche!
This may wel be rym dogerel, quod he
Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord!
Thou dost not elles but despendest tyme.
Sire, at o word, thou shalt no lenger ryme
(Tale of Sir Thopas 233 – 235, 240 – 242)

In what may be one of the greatest literary jokes in history, the host declares the character Chaucer's poetry awful and forbids him from speaking in verse! Saying that Chaucer is just wasting everybody's time is a huge insult, since good literature was supposed to have a moral purpose.

Quote #17

And though I nat the same wordes seye
As ye han herd, yet to yow alle I preye
Blameth me nat; for, as in my sentence,
Shul ye nowher fynden difference
Fro the sentence of this tretys lyte
After the which this murye tale I write
(Tale of Sir Thopas 269 – 274)

Here, the character Chaucer reverses his earlier position that a tale ought to be repeated word-for-word as you heard it. Now he claims that it's enough for the sentence, or meaning, of the tale, to be the same.

Quote #18

I hadde levere than a barel ale
That Goodelief, my wyf, hadde herde this tale!

(Monk's Prologue 5 – 6)

The Host has great faith in the power of tales: here, he expresses a belief that the example of a virtuous wife might reform his own, not-so-virtuous one.

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