The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
This persoun of the toun, for she was feir,
In purpos was to maken hire his heir,
Bothe of his catel and his mesuage.
(125 – 127)
This passage establishes the inheritance that the parson plans to bestow upon Malyne, Symkyn's daughter and the parson's granddaughter. He will give her his "catel," or possessions, and "mesuage," or home with outbuildings and the land it stands on. Since she is "feir," the parson hopes that her beauty in combination with his wealth will be enough to convince someone from a higher class to marry her, thus advancing the social standing of the whole family.
For hooly chirches good moot been despended
On hooly chirches blood, that is descended.
Therfore he wolde his hooly blood honoure
Though that he hooly chirche sholde devoure.
(129 – 132)
Technically, "hooly chirches blood" consisted of all Christians. In bestowing church goods only upon his genetic heir, the parson makes a mockery of the idea of a fraternity of all Christian believers. In this way he "devoures," or feeds upon the Church itself: he takes what should belong to all and uses it for self-advancement.
The millere sittyge by the fyr he fond,
For it was nyght, and forther myghte they noght;
But for the love of God they hym bisoght
Of herberwe and of ese, as for hir pey.
(262 – 265)
Before the birth of a "hospitality industry" with formal hotels and the like, it was common for medieval travelers to seek food and lodging in the homes of strangers, for which they would pay. In addition to stealing John and Aleyn's corn, the miller milks them further by releasing their horse, effectively guaranteeing that they will have to pay him to lodge them when night falls.