Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story The Clerk's Prologue

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The Clerk's Prologue

  • The Host remarks to the Clerk that he's been awfully quiet on this journey, so much so that the Host suspects he's studying, when now is really not the time.
  • The Host tells the Clerk to be more cheerful, and tell them a merry tale (and not a sermon), something about adventures. The Clerk should not speak in scholarly language, but in plain terms the whole company can understand.
  • The Clerk answers that he respects the Host's authority, and will certainly obey him by telling a tale that he learned from a clerk in Padua called Francis Petrarch.
  • The Clerk says that Petrarch wrote great poetry that illuminated Italy, but that death took him, as it does everyone.
  • The Clerk says that Petrarch wrote a prologue to his tale in which he described its setting. The Clerk, however, thinks this prologue unnecessary, and so launches right into his tale.

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