The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale
by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale Justice and Judgment Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
And though men dradded nevere for to dye,
Yet seen men wel by resoun, doutelees,
That ydelnesse is roten slogardye.
(15 - 17)
The narrator's point here is that even people who don't fear the most inevitable thing in life – death – can see through their reason that idleness is just no good. This passage foreshadows moments in the tale itself in which characters portray other truths of Christianity as self-evident to a person's judgment through reason.
'And thow Valerian, for thow so soone
Assentedest to good conseil also,
Sey what thee list, and thou shalt han thy boone.'
(232 - 234)
Valerian's good judgment in believing in the truths of Christianity is rewarded here by the angel, who promises to grant him any gift that he asks for. This good judgment is called assenting to "good conseil." "Conseil," another word for advice, was a traditional offering of wives to husbands. In portraying what is in fact the aggressive proselytizing of Cecilia as just "good conseil," the tale normalizes what some might consider unbecoming of the female sex.
'Whoso that troweth, nat this, a beest he is,'
Quod tho Tiburce, 'if that I shal nat lye.'
And she gan kisse his brest, that herde this,
And was ful glad he koude trouthe espye.
(288 - 291)
Here Tiburtius assesses the truths of Christianity and judges them to be self-evident, so much so that the person who does not believe in them must be lacking reason. His judgement is here referred to as "espy"-ing, or seeing, the truth.