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The Clerk’s Tale Notes

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This is an extract of our The Clerk’s Tale document, which we sell as part of our Middle English Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford University students.

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THE

CLERK'S

TALE


Prologue:


Host

asks

"Sir

Clerk

of

Oxford"

to

tell

a

story

-

says

hes

been

as

quite

as

a

newly

married

maid

so

far.


Suggests

"I

trowe

ye

studie

about

som

sophyme"

-

sophism,

plausible

but

faulty

argument.


Tells

him

to

cheer

up

and

not

to

preach

"as

freres

donne

in

Lente"

and

make

them

weep

for

their

sins


nor

to

tell

a

tale

"make

us

nat

to

slepe"

(boring

one)


Want

a

"murie

thing

of

aventures"

-

but

says

not

to

use

"youre

termes,

youre

colours

and

youre

figures

"heigh

style

as

whan

that

men

to

kynges

write"

-

wait

till

your

writing

it

down,

for

now

"speketh

so


pleyn"

so

that

"we

may

understonde

what

ye

seye"


Clerk

says

he

will

tell

a

story

that

he

learned

at

"Pawde

of

a

worthy

clerk,

As

preved

by

his

wordes

and


his

werk"

-

emphasize

on

work

rather

than

blood

/

nobility

-

the

clerk

is

Francis

Petrach,

the

laureate


poet.


Says

that

"I

seye,

that

first

with

heigh

stile

he

endieth

/

er

he

the

body

of

his

tle

writeth,

A

prohemye

in


which

discryveth

he

Pemond

and

of

Saluces

the

contree"


..

goes

on

at

length

referencing

various

places

and

peoples

and

then

says

"the

which

a

long

thynge


were

to

devyse

/

And

trewely,

as

to

my

juggement,

Me

thinketh

it

a

thymg

impertinent,

Save

that

the


wole

conveyen

his

matteer;

but

this

his

tale

which

that

ye

may

heere"

--

makes

us

aware

that

he

is

editing

/

changing

the

story.

Says

all

the

details

without

saying

them.


Reluctant

narrating


Tale:


"Saluces

this

noble

contree

highte"


"A

markys...as

were

his

worthy

elders

hym

before"


"beloved

and

drad

thrugh

favour

of

Fortune.

/

Bothe

of

his

lordes

and

of

his

commune"


"to

speke

as

of

lynage

/

The

gentilleste

yborn

of

Lumbardye"


"And

Walter

was

this

yonge

lordes

name"


=

focus

on

nobility,

lineage,

gentilness,

command

of

the

lords

+

common

people

-

all

mentioned

before


his

name


Blames

him

because

he

would

not

marry

a

wife

-

people

upset

about

it.

And

so

they

get

"oon

of

hem,


that

wisest

was

of

loore"

to

appeal

to

him:


"O

noble

Markys...."


Rhymes

"tell

oure

hevyness"

with

"for

your

gentilness"

-

opposites


Reminds

him

that

death

finds

everywhere

regardless

of

status

/

power


"chese

yow

a

wfy

in

short

tyme

ate

leeste

/

Born

of

the

gentillest

and

of

the

meeste

of

al

this

lang,

so


that

it

oght

seme

/

honour

to

God

and

yow,

as

we

kan

deeme.


Worried

about

issues

of

succession

/

heritage

etc

-

he

agrees

even

though

"I

nevere

erst

thoughte,


stene

me"

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