From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale Prologue, Lines 1-28 Summary

(Note: In this summary the speaker is the narrator, the Second Nun.)

  • The minister and nurse of vices, which men call in English idleness, is the porter at the gate of delights we should avoid and combat by keeping busy.
  • We ought to do everything we can, let the devil destroy us through idleness.
  • For when the devil, who waits with a thousand ropes to trap us, sees a man in idleness, he can so easily catch him that the idle man will be unaware of it until the devil has him by the collar.
  • We ought to work well and hard, and avoid idleness.
  • And though men don't dread death, no doubt they can reason that idleness is rotten laziness, and nothing good ever comes of idleness.
  • These men see that laziness holds a person on a leash, only allowing sleep, eating, drinking, and the devouring of others' work.
  • In order to save us from such idleness, which is the cause of such great confusion, I have worked hard on the translation of the life and passion of you who have been crowned with a garland of rose and lily.
  • I mean you, maid and martyr – Saint Cecilia.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...