The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Second Nun's Tale Analysis

The Second Nun’s Tale is an example of another well-known Middle English genre, the “saint’s life” tale. It is written in rime royal, and some scholars have guessed that it was written separately of the Canterbury Tales and only adapted to fit into their scheme later.

Similar to the Prioress’s Tale and the Clerk’s Tale, the Second Nun’s Tale is told in a dry, sanctimonious tone that emphasizes the main character’s suffering and patient faithfulness. It includes several components of the mythology common in medieval Christianity, such as the flower crowns only the “pure and chaste” can see. These symbolize the idea that Christians belong to a “city of God,” or a distinct community with shared values that exists “in the world, but not of it.” It also emphasizes the virtues of chastity, which were a major concern in the culture of the Middle Ages.

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