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.
Delany, Sheila. "Doer of the Word: The Epistle of St. James as a Source for Chaucer's Manciple's Tale." 17 (1983): 250-54.
Chaucer used the epistle of St. James as a source for the Manciple's Tale. Both the epistle and the tale consider the tongue and present the power of the tongue ambivalently. Both works also stress the importance of controlling the tongue.
Grudin, Michaela Paasche. "Chaucer's Manciple's Tale and the Poetics of Guile." 25 (1991): 329-42.
The Manciple's Tale "explains and reinforces" the poetic principles present in the Canterbury Tales (330). The tale is built on fallen language; if it is about silence, there is a multitude of words within it. The action focuses the attention of the audience on truth and the act of speaking the truth. Though Chaucer suggests that society is not entirely comfortable with truth, he accentuates the creative, mimetic voice. Chaucer constructs the tale to remind his audience of his position as a court poet, and the tale shows Chaucer's awareness of corruption and the danger of instructing kings. The amplifications that seem to disrupt the tale remind readers of the need for slyness and care in political arenas. Phoebus is completely disconnected from such impulses. Without the discernment to pierce deception, Phoebus ultimately has no perception. Chaucer thus demonstrates how poets can "survive," but never resolves the question of truth-telling (339).
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.]
Herman, Peter C. "Treason in the Manciple's Tale." 25 (1991): 318-28.
Given Phoebus's aristocratic social position, his wife's adultery is a crime of high treason as much as it is a violation of her marriage vows. In sources for the Manciple's Tale (the Metamorphoses, Ovide Moralisé, and Le Livre du Voir Dit) Phoebus's lover is his mistress. Making her Phoebus's wife creates in her "an implicit threat to male hegemony" (319), since adultery undermines male authority. Though the penalties for adultery were harsh, adultery was reasonably common, and adulterers were often unpunished. Exceptions were that adulterers had to deal with angry husbands, and that sleeping with the wife of one's lord was considered treasonous, as Ramon Lull presents it in Libre del ordre de Cavayleria. Thus the crow must choose either to notify Phoebus of treason against him, or to keep silent, thus assenting to that treason. Ultimately, the crow's act is objectionable for the method by which it subverts the codes of loyalty to his lord. Social disorder results from the wife's assertion of freedom, the crow's transgression of the letter of one law and the spirit of a second, and Phoebus's tyrannical response.
Hirsh, John C. "Modern Times: The Discourse of the Physician's Tale." 27 (1993): 387-95.
The structure of the Physician's Tale undermines "any necessity unconnected to social standing" (388). The Physician uses Christian discourse at the beginning of his tale in such a way that he will eventually be able to undermine it. In some subtle ways, the Physician's Tale reconstructs the Second Nun's Tale, and like the Manciple's Tale, it reconstructs the moral pattern with which it had been working. The Physician's Tale forces a reexamination of the relationship between real and ideal.
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.
Koff, Leonard Michael. "Wordsworth and the Manciple's Tale." 19 (1985): 338-51.
In the Manciple's Tale, Wordsworth perceives the statement that no matter what, the truth that the heart knows cannot be silenced. Wordsworth eliminates more overtly sexual passages in the tale to focus attention on the historical but timeless knowledge Chaucer displays.
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.
Pelen, Marc M. "The Manciple's 'Cosyn' to the 'Dede.'" 25 (1991): 343-54.
The Manciple's Tale dramatizes Chaucer's perception of the limits of language to communicate ultimate truths. In the Metamorphoses Ovid asks questions about the viability of attempting to represent gods as humans. The Manciple's Tale suggests a settlement of the conflict: "the object of the legend of Phoebus and the crow must be identified as a sacramental and not as a human concern" (350).