The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Summoner's Tale Analysis
In this tale, the Summoner repays the Friar’s tale bashing summoners with a tale that makes just as much fun of friars. In many ways, the Summoner’s Tale is even more aggressive than the Friar’s, and medieval audiences who would have thought the Friar’s Tale skirted the line of good taste would likely have been outright offended by the Summoner’s Tale. The tale is circular in several ways. Despite the friar’s sermon against anger, the friar ends the tale in a fury; the Tale describes him as looking like “a wild boar.” It also contains a number of puns, the most prominent of which is the pun on “ferthyng,” or “farthing” (a coin) and “farting.” The two words were pronounced almost identically in Middle English, and medieval audiences would immediately have caught onto the joke that a “ferthyng” split into twelve is worthless.
On a more serious note, the tale also asks whether religious advice is actually worth people’s money. Does the friar in the tale actually give Thomas any advice worth more than a fart? Put another way, are taletellers just full of hot air?
Contents
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Plot Summaries & Analysis
 General Prologue
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Knight's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Miller's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Reeve's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Cook's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Man of Law's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Friar's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Summoner's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Clerk's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Merchant's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Squire's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Franklin's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Physician's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Pardoner's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Shipman's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Prioress's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Tale of Sir Thopas
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Tale of Melibee
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Monk's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Nun's Priest’s Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Second Nun's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Canon's Yeoman’s Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Manciple's Tale
 Summary
 Analysis
 The Parson's Tale and Chaucer’s Retraction
 Summary
 Analysis

Character Analysis
 The Host
 The Knight, the Squire, and the Knight's Yeoman
 The Prioress, the Second Nun, and the Monk
 The Friar
 The Merchant
 The Clerk of Oxford
 The Man of Law and the Franklin
 The Haberdasher, Carpenter, Weaver, Dyer, and Upholsterer
 The Cook
 The Shipman
 The Physician
 The Wife of Bath
 The Parson and the Ploughman
 The Miller
 The Manciple
 The Reeve
 The Summoner and the Pardoner
 The Canon and the Yeoman
 Themes, Symbols & Motifs
 Writing Style & Structure
 Important Quotes