© 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...