The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Manciple's Tale Analysis

This is perhaps one of the most violently self-destructive of the Canterbury Tales, describing the god of poetry devolving into a petty, jealous murderer who destroys his most cherished possessions – whether human, animal, or inanimate. Although it contains echoes of the “beast fable” such as we see in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale, it lacks the happy ending in which the bird outwits death in favor of a miserable ending in which the wife is dead, the husband is bereft, and the beautiful-voiced singing crow has become the harbinger of doom and death.

The fact that the moral “hold your tongue” comes near the end of a collection of stories that have rambled at length on various touchy subjects seems odd. But when compared to the final tale, The Parson’s Tale, and the retraction by Chaucer that follows it, it begins to look as though even before he stopped writing the Canterbury Tales altogether, Chaucer was beginning to have doubts about whether he had said too much.

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