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The Canterbury Tales: The Reeve's Tale

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.

Quote #1

A theef he was, for sothe, of corn and mele,
And that a sly, and usuant for to stele.
(85 – 86)

Symkyn regularly cheats his customers by shorting them of the corn and meal they bring to him for grinding. A miller was entitled to a certain portion of whatever he ground as payment for his labor. A miller might take more than his fair share, however, perhaps padding the customer's sacks with a less expensive substance, and in this way increase his profits.

Quote #2

A wyf he hadde, ycomen of noble kyn;
The person of the toun hir fader was.
With hire he yaf ful many a panne of bras,
For that Symkyn sholde in his blood allye.
(88 – 91)

Symkyn's wife's father, the town parson, has given her a dowry, represented here by many "panne of bras," or brass pans. In effect, he has paid Symkyn to marry her, a common practice at this time to offset the expense of "keeping" a wife and family. This passage is likely mocking everyone involved, however. A parson is not usually part of the nobility, and he gives his daughter a dowry of brass pans rather than gold or jewelry. The parson's daughter is "noble" only in relation to the working class from which the miller comes.

Quote #3

On halydayes biforn hire wolde he go
With his typet wound aboute his heed,
Ad she cam after in a gyte of reed;
And Symkyn hadde hosen of the same.
(98 – 101)

Certain colors of dye were more expensive than others, and red was one of the most expensive. The fact that his wife has a red skirt and Symkyn, red hose, signals that they are probably doing pretty well financially (maybe because of the extra profit Symkyn makes by cheating his customers).

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