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451 Study Questions for Chaucer's Summoner's Tale

Vocabulary: fabliaux, anti-fraternal satire, mendicant orders, friar, summoner

Useful Middle English terms: whilom (once upon a time), espiaille (spy network), degree (rank)

Lecture Questions: Why were friars and summoners and pardoners economic rivals in the Middle Ages? How is the division of the fart a parody of the holy spirit, according to a 1971 article by Alan Leviton?

Character Identifications: friar John, Thomas the rich man, the wife, the Lord, the Lord's Squire

(From "The Prologue of the Summoner's Tale," lines 1265-1300)

  • What explanation does the Summoner give for why the Friar "boasteth that he knoweth helle"?)
  • According to the Summoner, when a friar went to hell in a vision, he could find no friars there at first. Where were all the friars--some twenty thousand of them--stashed away in hell?
  • How is this prologue a parody or twist of Dante's Divine Comedy? (cf. Circle IX of The Inferno).

The Summoner's Tale

  • What is the setting for the story?
  • What does the friar carry with him as he wanders and preaches? What does his "harlot" or servant carry with him? How does this contrast with Mattthew 10:9-10 and Luke 10:4?
  • What problem does Thomas have?
  • When friar John sits down, who or what does he drive away from the most comfortable spot on the bench?

Identifications:

A.


 

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