Study Guide

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

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The Summoner's Prologue

  • The Summoner is so angered by the Friar's tale that he stands up in his stirrups shaking like an aspen leaf.
  • He tells the company he desires only one thing: to be allowed to tale his tale.
  • The Summoner says that the Friar boasts he knows hell and that is no wonder: friars and devils are never apart.
  • The Summoner tells a story-within-a-story about a friar:
  • The story begins with a friar who dreams that an angel guides him through hell.
  • This friar is surprised that in his tour of hell, he sees no friars, and asks the angel whether friars have so much grace that they don't go to hell.
  • The angel replies that there are millions of friars in hell, and leads the friar to Satan.
  • The angel asks Satan to lift his huge tail, and there, in his anus, swarm friars like bees in a hive, coming and going, nestling in Satan's "ers."
  • The friar wakes from his vision, but after that he quakes for fear, always having Satan's "ers" in his mind.
  • The Summoner ends his story about the friar by saying that this is the heritage of Friars.
  • The Summoner declares this the end of his prologue, and begins his tale.

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