The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Mann, Jill. "The Speculum Stultorum and the Nun's Priest's Tale." 9 (1975): 262-81.
Careful examination of the Nun's Priest's Tale indicates the influence of Nigel de Longchamps. In the Speculum stultorum, Nigel satirizes Burnellus in order to criticize those like him. Burnellus maintains the behavior traits usually associated with asses. When Burnellus finally makes a wise choice, readers remember the folly which is divine wisdom. Since all of society is satirized, however, readers cannot read the moralizing straight. Giving the animals human points of view changes the definition of "good" and "bad" (270). The Nun's Priest's Tale raises serious questions which, when readers try to answer them based on the material in the tale, result in laughter. Chaucer and Nigel use the beast fable in order to discuss the way in which human nature refuses to fit into narrow intellectual or moral molds.