The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Campbell, Jackson J. "Polonius among the Pilgrims." 7 (1972): 140-46.
The Manciple's Tale shows Chaucer's ability to use narrative as a characterization tool. The digressions tell readers a great deal about the Manciple. Instead of developing profound ideas, he focuses on the trivial. When Phebus tells the crow to beware of jealousy, he turns to address all people, just as the Manciple does. Even after the Manciple finishes his story, he continues expounding on the moral of his tale, referring to his mother as his authority. The Manciple's narrative characterizes him as eager to please, although he is verbose and focused on trivial matters.
Harwood, Britton J. "Language and the Real: Chaucer's Manciple." 6 (1972): 268-79.
The Manciple's Tale discusses the connection between words and things, mocking those who find the false reality of language a distraction from the "real world." The Manciple demonstrates that descriptions determine attitude when Phebus substitutes his own description of the wife for the one that the crow has given. As the tale progresses, readers note that Phebus has taught the crow to speak, but that same speech betrays him when the crow, who could sing more beautifully than the nightingale, forgets song in order to inform Phebus of his wife's adultery. By his contemptuous treatment of words which become real, the Manciple anticipates Christ, the Word become flesh. [For a correction of a typographical error, see "Editor's Note," 7 (1972): 84.]
Hirsh, John C. "The Politics of Spirituality: The Second Nun and the Manciple." 12 (1977): 129-46.
Political references in Chaucer's "Legend of St. Cecile" indicate his concern over the Great Schism. When Cecilia urges Valerian and Tiberce to steadfast deaths, she becomes the center of attention, suggesting that she is a figure of the unified church. Like the Second Nun's Tale, the Manciple's Tale deals with the relationship between life and religion and defends the Manciple from the Host's suggestion that the Manciple is a thief.
McGavin, John J. "How Nasty is Phoebus's Crow?" 21 (1987): 44-58.
Chaucer alters his sources for the Manciple's Tale by eliminating material giving the crow a motive for revealing what he knows, and Chaucer removes the passage warning the crow about such an indiscretion. Chaucer also leaves out as much of the material that creates the plot of the story, thereby highlighting the narrator's digressions. The crow's speech to Phoebus is rhetorically structured, but does not suggest any particular emotion, especially since the tale has been carefully manipulated so as to eliminate the crow's motive. Chaucer also collapses the distance between the Manciple and the crow so that the two sound much alike. The crow's use of colloquial language matches his position with relation to Phoebus and the matter of which the crow speaks. In this tale, Chaucer makes the point that hearers often reject truth because they need to believe something else.
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.
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.
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.