Study Guide

The Senator in The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

The Senator

Notice any interesting parallels between the Senator and anyone else?

That's right: the Senator who takes Custance into his home serves as the Roman version of the Northumbrian Constable. This tells us some interesting things about the tale's perspective on the two cultures from which these men come.

The Senator is a law maker, rather than a law enforcer like the Constable. Both men serve justice in their society by protecting an innocent, Custance. Their parallel roles connect them, but draw attention to the very different systems of justice in their societies. The Constable symbolizes the feudal court of ordeals and punitive law, while the Senator represents the democracy of lawmaking.