The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Gallacher, Patrick. "The Summoner's Tale and Medieval Attitudes towards Sickness." 21 (1986): 200-12.
In the Summoner's Tale, Chaucer alludes to the non-natural elements Galen posits as influential in recovering from sickness. In contradicting the medical tradition, the friar follows St. Ambrose who criticized physicians for instructing patients to avoid sorrow and contemplation while ill. The Summoner's Tale and the Friar's Tale, engage the dialectic between self and other, but this dialectic is affected by debate between the body and the soul in both tales. The Friar focuses on aesthetics and objective knowledge as a technique to distance oneself from the other. The Summoner focuses on the body. Integrating the concern for the body and soul results in self-knowledge which neither the Summoner nor the Friar attain.
Ginsberg, Warren. "'This worthy lymytour was cleped Huberd': A Note on the Friar's Name." 21 (1986): 53-57.
The Friar's name, Huberd, is an ironic reference to St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. The possible allusion to St. Hubert's conversion adds irony to the Friar's portrait and tale.
Havely, N. R. "Chaucer's Friar and Merchant." 13 (1979): 337-45.
The Friar is an appropriate figure to link the genteel class with the bourgeois class because while he can participate in the church funtions, he is also characterized in terms of money and merchandise. The connection between the Friar and money makes him an ideal link to the Merchant's following portrait.
Kiessling, Nicholas K. "The Wife of Bath's Tale: D 878-881." 7 (1972): 113-16.
The reference to friars as those who have driven incubi out of the countryside does not insult the Friar's virility. Women who met with incubi did not always become pregnant, though the outcome was always uncomfortable. Since the Wife of Bath shows a woman's dishonor merely as a mistake, the reference to the incubi suggests that she is more disturbed by their violence toward women.
Leicester, H. Marshall, Jr. "'No vileyns word': Social Context and Performance in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 17 (1982): 21-39.
The Summoner's attack on the Friar provides a context in which the Friar may tell his tale. In telling the tale, the Friar establishes his social superiority to summoners. The desire to proclaim learning and social superiority leads the Friar to make the summoner in his tale psychologically inconsistent: the summoner has little reaction to the announcement that his companion is a demon. After the digression on summoners, the Friar draws on the exemplum tradition to camouflage his attack on the Summoner. At the end of the tale, the Friar's anger has not been entirely released, but for his exemplum to be effective, he must maintain a separation between the pilgrim Summoner and the summoner of the tale. The Friar's Tale collapses at the end because he tries to include within it the contradictory impulses of love and hate.
Lenaghan, R. T. "The Irony of the Friar's Tale." 7 (1973): 281-94.
The Friar's Tale is ironic both as a tale and as part of the pilgrimage, and the tale is both sermon and satire. The relational inequality between the characters, the legalism by which the summoner curses himself, and the imagery all contribute to the narrative and its irony. In the end the Friar's Tale turns on its teller, since the Friar's anger has no place in his prayer at the end of his tale. The ironies of the tale depend on Christian morality by which the Friar finally indicts himself, thus allowing Chaucer to satirize the clergy.
Owen, Charles A., Jr. "A Certein Nombre of Conclusions: The Nature and Nurture of Children in Chaucer." 16 (1981): 60-75.
Chaucer depicts parents as vitally important in raising their children, as seen in the Manciple's, Wife of Bath's, Knight's, Squire's, and Franklin's Tales. The Manciple's explicit reference to his mother, however, suggests that teaching has only a limited effect on a person. A number of pilgrims and characters behave childishly, among them the Friar and Summoner, Absolon, and January. Chaucer also focuses on children in the Prioress's and Monk's Tales.
Passon, Richard H. "'Entente' in Chaucer's Friar's Tale." 2 (1968): 166-71.
Chaucer uses "entente" to suggest a moral dimension beneath the fabliau elements of the Friar's Tale. In telling his tale, the Friar steps into the role of preacher, suggesting that evil may appear good, but that evil can always be discerned by examining "entente." Examining "entente" adds to the irony of the story, since the Friar's malicious intent becomes clear at the end of his tale.
Richardson, Janette. "Friar and Summoner, the Art of Balance." 9 (1975): 227-36.
In the end, neither the Friar nor the Summoner wins the contest between them. Chaucer parallels the Friar and Summoner in their appearances, musical talents or lack thereof, vices, and shallow spirituality. Their tales are also structurally paralleled. Close reading of the Friar's and Summoner's tales demonstrates that both protagonists reflect the tellers and have features of the opposing pilgrim.
Root, Jerry. "'Space to speak': The Wife of Bath and the Discourse of Confession." 28 (1994): 252-74.
Examination of the Wife of Bath's Prologue in light of the theories of Michel Foucault suggests that medieval confessional practice defined a new space for private speech. In the Canterbury Tales, the Parson's Tale and Chaucer's Retraction make the confessional mode most apparent. All of the pilgrims travel in a space defined by Church practice as acceptable. Even the struggle between the Friar and the Summoner takes place within that established boundary. In fact, their rivalry is built on the confessional mode. The Wife of Bath's claim for experience merely places her in the confessional mode, requiring a telling of personal experience. Her emphasis on her body reveals a desire to assert the "scandal of the domination of the female body by traditional strategies of interpretation" (257). The Wife's claims for her body and the right to marry declare a space in which she can speak and a refusal to submit to male authorities like Jerome. Her grumbling, though merely "noise" to the male establishment, creates "a space in which she can speak rather than being spoken" (262). By retelling what her husbands have done, she controls their speech and reveals their most hidden secrets. Though apparently confessional, the Wife of Bath's Prologue is a confession of her husband's private experience, not her own.
Spencer, William. "Are Chaucer's Pilgrims Keyed to the Zodiac?" 4 (1970): 147-70.
The sequence of the pilgrims in the General Prologue suggests that they are keyed to the zodiac. Readers can view each pilgrim in terms of the influence of the planets and the stars. Among the pilgrims whom a knowledge of the medieval science of the zodiac helps to illuminate are the Knight, the Squire, the Yeoman, the Prioress, the Monk, the Friar, the Merchant, the Clerk, the Man of Law, the Franklin, the Cook, the Shipman, the Physician, the Wife of Bath, the Parson, the Miller, the Manciple, the Reeve, the Summoner, and the Pardoner.
Stroud, T. A. "Chaucer's Friar as Narrator." 8 (1973): 65-69.
By demanding brief introductions, the Friar shows himself a literal-minded person who makes careful distinctions. Chaucer makes several important changes to the Friar's Tale. He leaves out one of the curses and carefully chooses the objects of the insincere curses so that these objects are more valuable. In another change, the Friar also makes the summoner ask practical questions of the devil. Furthermore, the widow's responses to the summoner heighten readers' suspense, which culminates at the moment when the summoner displays his guilt and damns himself. Chaucer uses the literal-minded Friar to create a comic summoner who takes things much too seriously.
Wilson, Grace G. "'Amonges othere wordes wyse': The Medieval Seneca and the Canterbury Tales." 28 (1993): 135-45.
Seneca acquired two reputations in the Middle Ages. First, he was a moral philosopher and, second, a "hackneyed aphorist" (136). Chaucer refers to Seneca more than any other philosopher in the Canterbury Tales. In the Parson's Tale and the Tale of Melibee, Chaucer uses Seneca straight, and those tales generally have less audience appeal. Tales where Seneca's morals are used more ironically seem to generate greater audience appreciation. A number of characters refer to Seneca and his ideas, for example: the Wife of Bath uses Seneca in her tale as part of the curtain lecture. The Pardoner, Summoner, Friar, Man of Law, Monk, Merchant, and Manciple all refer to Seneca, but use his teachings ironically. Seneca's teachings do not seem to be the object of Chaucer's ridicule. Instead, they help to characterize those who refer to him.
Zietlow, Paul N. "In Defense of the Summoner." 1 (1966): 4-19.
The Friar does not get the best of the Summoner by exciting the Summoner's anger and exposing the Summoner's moral failings. To the contrary, the Summoner has nothing to hide; his physical being already demonstrates his immorality. The Friar, however, falls into he trap he intended for the Summoner: the Summoner accurately exposes the greedy, insensitive Friar who cannot keep silent even when doing so would prevent his own disgrace.