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The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale

The Canterbury Tales: The Second Nun's Tale


by Geoffrey Chaucer

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

In his portrait of the Prioress in the General Prologue, Chaucer mentions that she's brought a buddy along on pilgrimage with her – another nun who, since the Prioress is also a nun, would be the so-called "Second Nun." This is the person most people think tells "The Second Nun's Tale." However, the General Prologue gives no portrait for this pilgrim, an absence which leads some people to speculate that the teller of this tale is actually the first nun, or Prioress, with the "second" in the title referring to the fact that this is her second tale. Whatever her identity, the teller of this tale is a religious figure, and unlike some of the other religious figures (the Nun's Priest comes to mind), her tale – a pious narrative celebrating the life of a holy woman – is exactly what we'd expect from her.

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