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English 405 Senior Thesis The Nuns Priests Tale More than just a Beast Fable At first glance the Nuns Priests Tale appears to be a simplistic beast fable that provides the reader with a very basic moral lesson Too often it is overlooked as one of Chaucers lesser tales in terms of content and literary meaning However after a very close reading and much research I am of the opinion that this tale is one of Chaucers most ingenious This is true in that Chaucer is able to encapsulate a number of different genres while offering the reader several different moral lessons all in the framework of a simple and short tale whose main characters are a rooster a fox and a hen Before one can analyze a beast fable one must know exactly what a beast fable is A beast fable is obviously a story that has animals as main characters It goes beyond that however a true beast fable is one where animals are used as embodiments or caricatures of human virtues vices prudences and follies and the other typical qualities of mankind They are generally brief cautionary anecdotes that use the obvious resemblances between man and animals to point a moral or push a proverb home entertainingly Coghill and Tolkien 12 In the Nuns Priests tale Chaucer is able to fully exploit the nature of beast in that his tale contains all of the traditional elements mentioned above the main characters are the chickens Chauntecleer and Pertelote and a fox named Russell each of these characters personality traits are portrayed and examined Although the tale is brief it gives the reader a clear understanding of character traits and offers several moral lessons all while working within several different genres The tale contains numerous sub-genres such as the romance rhetorical debate and Christian misogyny It is the interplay of these sub-genres within the framework of a beast fable
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