zoradene prednasky

Návrat na detail prednášky / Stiahnuť prednášku / Univerzita Pavla Jozefa Šafárika / Filozofická fakulta / Britské a americké štúdiá


dany (english_literature.doc)

autor nezodpovedá za obsah, neprešlo jazykovou úpravou:))




  1. Anglo-Saxon period, fragments of literature, church literature,
  2. Beowulf is a large work
  3. Old English /OE/ as a language – different lang. than New English /NE/  
  4. British Isles: ROMES- England belong to Roman Empire, 490 departed of ENG., London was founded by Rome’s
  5. Celts: original inhabitants, Rome’s pushed them to forest- to WALES mountains, SCOTLAND
  6. HADRIAN WALL was built
  7. Romans language was Latin (W, S-Gaelic, Irish)- Celtic
  8. BI- political vacuum of power, immigration of German, Saxons, Jews. They built small kingdoms, which remain nowadays: ASSEX, SUSEX, WESSEX, CANT-between them competitions, wars
  9. WG: English/ Anglo-Saxon,/, Dutch, German, Frisian
  10. NG: Norway, Danish, Swedish, Iceland/ colonial lang., conservative lang. , like Old North/
  11. EG: eastern parts /Belarus/, Gothic /impress to ling., the oldest documents New Testament by Wulfilas
  12. Anglo- Saxon + France- combination, Scandinavian influence: they, them, their- from SC lang.
  13. Vikings / Scandinavians/: search for money, robbing, they believe in yourself- fame will remain, must be great in battle- kill enemies

ek viet- I know the one who never dies

dómv- judgment, your fame will stay

deyr té- die everything you have



  1. AESIR- Gods
  2. Midgard- people live in
  3. Utgard- evil







793- Vikings was first who burn Lindys Farm, not peacefully-wanted money, more often come, Vikings immigrate to ENG- central ENG- countryside

- CHRISTIAN Eng: Ireland, monk came to ENG in 700, continent Germany 800, Scandinavian 900, Iceland- republic- voted to accepted Christianity



  1. written by anonym, member of a church, language was LATIN
  2. try of translation
  1. RUNY alphabet: not use, it was only use to predict the future
  2. LATIN alphabet: use in writing, not so good for other lang., lot of sounds/ voice/voiceless/, translation of each word, use of Latin syntax
  3. INTELINEAR: ROMAN alphabet + Runny, in church texts Churches provided educations, it was a monopoly of education, art, reading, writing, music. Mainly this was concentrated in churches and monistory schools.


  1. Art was not under any protection, imitation was no problem- it profits a lot, art was sth. you cold learn, able to do, art  creation piece of writing
  2. BW was written by anonym monk, he wrote sth., he heard from others- oral tale, wrote like an exercise,
  3. everything was hand-written on pergament



- means SEE, Anglo-Saxon Lwat-what look

  2. oral background, oral tradition, story not invented, stories collected by author
  3. not name of the author, because he only copy what he heard
  4. epic story:  generation of history of BW family, how and why and when they come
  5. rhyme scheme: germanic alliteration, rhyme sound on 1 sound      hx hx


  1. rhyme of alliteration: sound only rhyme, things not called by real names
  2. kenning: substitution of noun with some other description


  1. location in exotic land, setting not in ENG but in Denmark,- SPIELDANNS- Gods warriors,
  2. man evalute by God grace
  3. clash of faith and Christianity
  4. body of king is burned on ship with all jewellery, treasures
  5. or buried under stones
  6. kings built farms- with people who  protect him,
  7. kings built for them house for entertain in evenings
  8. kings pay them, give gifts: gold, ring( ring giver) on arms, more than they have, better they were



  1. old king of Sweden died, description of his funeral,
  2. building of MERLOT- house where king and his bodyguards entertain themselves in Denmark
  3. a dark side appears, evil forces represented by GRENDEL- beast in human shape, terribly strong, tall , eating human beings- attacker
  4. mixture of Genesis, creation of world,  killing of Abel by Kain- Christian influence
  5. Grendel lives in swamp, goes out only at night
  6. at night he is coming to Merlot and killing sleeping knights
  7. in the morning a horrified picture when people saw what Grendel done
  8. king can not protect  his land, because he is old
  9. new hero in person of HROTGARD- BEOWULF-  is young,
  10. BW sees an opportunity in battle, he would be a hero
  11. BW wants to help D. king, he + 14 his friends sail to Sweden
  12. they first met a coast man, he take them to king Herot, which is happy of intention of BW
  13. BW wants to meet Grendel in Herot
  14. BW armed off for night, because he wants to play fair in battle with Grendel( not armed) and God will decide who will win and be a hero
  15. in battle BW injure Grendel( amputee  Grendel´s arm), G escape to swamp, BW is a hero
  16. joy in the morning, BW victory upon G, BW receives from king ring, jewellery, horse  



  1. Grendel is dieing , his mother wants a bloody revenge
  2. GM come to Herot, she left terror there ( strength in battle between man and woman)
  3. she must escape, but she take a close friend of king
  4. BW goes to GM to beat her and he look for her in swamp under water
  5. BW is armed off
  6. one of Danes makes fun of BW- unexpected point
  7. BW dives into the water,  been there for a long time  
  8. GM finds BW, wants to catch BW, but he has an iron shirt which protects him
  9. BW and GM in long battle
  10. GM killed by BW with fire light, he killed also wounded Grendel and other  creatures
  11. he returns back as a hero



  1. dragon is a protector of treasure
  2. someone has stole one of cups
  3. dragon wants a revenge, he go out and destroy villages, kill farmers
  4. BW is an old king, but he knows that he must fight with dragon all alone
  5. one of his friends persuade him to go with BW, he then agree
  6. they together seek for dragon, soon they find him and struggle with him
  7. BW is injured by poisoned sword, dragon is defeated
  8. BW asks one of his friend  to see the treasure, when he sees it, he die



  1. idea of ARCH- poem written by anonym who copy it
  2. clash of Christianity and paganisms
  3. role model for Christians
  4. Anglo-Saxon language
  5. monasteries- education monopoly, culture+ church can not be separated
  6. Viking time
  1. EDDA- consists of songs about German mythology , ethical, form as advices, tells you how to behave
  2. SCôP- to entertain people, quotation of heard stories + music, mainly about kings, prays, love,
  3. SAGA LITERATURE- tales, stories setting in Ireland, 24 family sagas – their history, background, day to day life and business, names of family, Ireland history as a country, novels.. (Njal´s Saga)


CRETIA: poem like BW, connection between them, author must have knowledge about BW- similarities

Old H. German literature: Songs of Higreld: by Louis de Pajjes- he found monasteries, paganistic books

Duty literature- legal point, not to entertain

Lord texts






Widsith (The Far-Wanderer) preserved in the Exeter Book, West Saxon dialect, "autobiographical" record (fragment) of a scop; enumerates the noble lords who lavished gifts on him, the first catalogue of rulers. Stories about heroes, Gods, royalty. The scop (poet) learned it from traveling, he then tells it to kings on court, he entertains them with stories, he is a happy traveler, he gets jewellery as a reward. We heard about Alexander the Great, Attila Hunts, Ceaser, Theodor Rich


800 AD- all West England had been settled by Germans. They didn’t form small kingdoms. Firs who was keen on creation an emperor was Charles Main- Carolinian emperor /NI, Benelux/, he wanted to form kingdom as good as Rome. Pope crowned him, but soon the power struggled between pope and king.


Wanderer: fragment, it is about travelling, different idea, miserably of a person, hard time of living for him, not nice behave persons. Idea of travelling- person is forced to it, they felt homesick- great sacrificing. Auslander is a person who is outside of his country. He is throw out of society for not behaving good, done sth. bad in society etc. Death penalty was not in used- it has come from Rome, Greece.  A person was free as a bird, without any protection, anyone could kill him. The person is out of his country, feel lonely, no one speaks his language. Nature reflects his feelings. The more he wants to overcall his memories, the more he is struggled. Traveling in sorrow can make you a better person: thoughtful, wise , patient, know what and when to say sth.,  clear speech, learn how to behave. In fight he lost his friends in foreign country, he stands alone.  Analogy: storm from North/ UK war.


  1. miserbility: emotions of a person
  2. memories
  3. cast of a war
  4. what was cast of war

Short notes:

  1. God is mentioned in last line, clash of believe/ God
  2. solution of giving home, his believe in God- gave him mercy
  3. Exeter Book, early 10th-cent, anonymous author
  4. exile, separation, loss of the lord
  5. searching for a new lord over the icy sea
  6. theme expanded from individual to mankind: "All the foundation of earth shall fail"
  7. ending: typical OE injunction to practice restraint & place hope in heaven
  8. frame: statement of faith; in between: tribulations of earthly existence
  9. ubi sunt - the only constancy is God's
  10. nostalgia over the past
  11. the narrator claims to have lost his lord (forced exile) and is now confronted with a bitterly alienating vision of frozen waves, sea-birds and winter cold
  12. the emptiness and the winter violence are rendered as the embodiment   of the failure of human relationships, of loneliness and exile
  13. the narrator cannot find the concept of God, is not a believer
  14. he finds comfort in self-reliance – God is not the only answer
  15. hierarchy should be preserved



Deors lament (complain of deor):  

  1. refers to ancient kings
  2. bad things we will forget, we look to future( water, girl’s lost of virgin, lost of land)
  3. do not worry about past
  4. old person still recollect memories, young think about future
  5. story of a scop who suffers because estranged from his lord and replaced by a rival contemplation on fate's habitual unkindness (Refrain: That was surmounted; so may this be), elegiac mood


The dream of the rood

  1. rood is a cross, tree starts to speak out
  2. speaking about sth. very special- Passion of a Christ
  3. cross is made by this tree, story about Christ death, how he had died
  4. cross receives same fame as Christ mother
  5. poem deeply Christian
  6. anonymous author is very religious, cross doctrine, cross teaches people about Christ
  7. story about Christ/ rood
  8. we have to pray- hope for life
  9. profound, moving and intellectually sophisticated
  10. the “dream vision” genre
  11. rood = cross
  12. part 1: the author tells about his dream to a group of people; the cross spoke about its existence
  13. part 2: cross urged the speaker to travel and promote its cult
  14. part 3: the speaker woke up and his life changed
  15. cross – duality of human existence (world vs. spirituality), the instrument of salvation






  1. first contact with Normans /1066/
  2. Anglo-Saxon + Scotland language, influence of French
  3. social issues : N came in 1066, they won upon A-S, came with own lords, took farms, established new kingdoms, new government, administration (court, landowners), lang. was French, slave spoke A-S language= mixture of languages/ French word- beef, influence mainly nouns/
  4. French impact was not so serious ( 500 words), syntax was A-S
  5. lang. had changed:
  1. Latin 20% written, privilege to 16-17 century, it was not classical Latin, pop killer Latin, more simply in grammar, pronunciation.
  1. Catholic life: behave according to BIBLE- fulfill the command and you go to heaven. Church + people like priest helps you to achieve heave successfully, building churches.  BIBLE explain you what you want to know. Churches started to be wealthy, people critic= churches, monks, archbishops are bad, someone must do sth. – written Canterbury Tales.


Chaucer: Canterbury Tales

  1. use of end rhyme
  2. CT: pilgrim march, what wrote Chaucer what not, the framework is a pilgrimage to Canterbury - a broad spectrum of sinful humanity on an earthly journey, which original readers would have recognized as a prevision of, and a preparation for, a heavenly one
  3. 30 people who met by incident in inn, use of horse transport, idea going together to Canterbury and telling stories during the march there and back. In book mentioned only stories to Canterbury.
  4. Ship of fools and Decammeron : like CT, different time period, same kind of story, collection of stories, same setting

Prologue: meet of 30 people going to Canterbury (holly place, reminisce of march –Thomas Peacock, today is Canterbury mainly know for archbishop). Setting in spring, one of 30 is Chaucer, others are pilgrims.

  1. 24 tales in various genres
  2. the pilgrims represent the English society, but are not individualized personalities, they are typified, stereotypes; the human world determined by the question of degree, and of social perceptions conditioned by rank
  3. the General Prologue sets out the circumstances which bring the pilgrims together at the Tabard Inn before they set off for Canterbury to pray at the tomb of the martyred St Thomas Becket, and presents the pilgrims according to their estate
  4. a good tale should have an important idea and a moral message, and should entertain and be funny
  5. the Knight is placed first and is followed by his son the Squire and his attendant Yeoman
  6. the representative of the Church: the Prioress, Nun, the Monk, Friar
  7. the third estate (rich, middling and poor): Merchant, Oxford Clerk, Sergeant of the Law, Franklin
  8. the urban guildsmen; the skilled tradesmen; well-off widow with a trade of her own – the Wife of Bath
  9. Chaucer casts himself in the role of an incompetent story-teller
  10. the Host of the Tabard proposes that each of the pilgrims should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two on the return journey

Short analysis of stories:

The Knight's Tale is a tale about two knights, Arcite and Palamon, who are captured in battle and imprisoned in Athens under the order of King Theseus. While imprisoned in a tower, both see Emelye, the sister of Queen Hippolyta, and fall instantly in love with her. Both knights eventually leave prison separately: a friend of Arcite begs Theseus to release him, while Palamon later escapes. Arcite returns to the Athenian court disguised as a servant, and when Palamon escapes he suddenly finds Arcite. They fight over Emelye, but their fight is stopped when Theseus finds them. Theseus sets the rules for a duel between the two knights for Emelye's affection, and each raise an army for a battle a year from that date. Before the battle, Arcite prays to Mars for victory in battle, Emelye prays to Diana that she may marry happily, and Palamon prays to Venus to have Emelye as his wife. All three gods hear their prayers and argue over whose should get precedence, but Saturn decides to mediate. During their battle, Arcite indeed is victorious, but as soon as he is crowned victor, an earthquake occurs that kills him. Before he dies, he reconciles with Palamon and tells him that he deserves to marry Emelye. Palamon and Emelye marry.

When the Knight finishes his tale, everybody is pleased with its honorable qualities, but the drunken Miller insists that he shall tell the next tale. The Miller's Tale is a comic table in which Nicholas, a student who lives with John the carpenter and his much younger wife, Alison, begins an affair with Alison. Another man, the courtly romantic Absolon, also falls in love with Alison. Nicholas contrives to spend a day with Alison by telling John that a flood equal to Noah's flood will come soon, and the only way that he, Nicholas and Alison will survive is by staying in separate kneading tubs placed on the roof of houses, out of sight of all. While John remained in this kneading tub, Nicholas and Alison left to have sex, but were interrupted by Absolon, who demanded a kiss from Alison. She told him to close his eyes and he would receive a kiss. He did so, and she pulled down her pants so that he could kiss her nether region. The humiliated Absolon got a hot iron from a blacksmith and returned to Alison. This time, Nicholas tried the same trick, and Absolon burned him on the ass. Nicholas shouted for water, awakening John, who was asleep on the roof. He fell off the roof, hurting himself, and all were humiliated.

The pilgrims laughed heartily at this tale, but Oswald the Reeve took offense, thinking that the Miller meant to disparage older men. In response, The Reeve's Tale told the story of a dishonest Miller, Symkyn, who repeatedly cheated his clients, which included the college at Cambridge. Two Cambridge students, Aleyn and John, went to the miller to buy meal and corn, but while they were occupied Symkyn let their horses run free and stole their corn. They were forced to stay with Symkyn for the night. That night, Aleyn seduced the miller's daughter, Molly, while John seduced the miller's wife. When Aleyn told John of his exploits, Symkyn overheard and fought with him. The miller's wife hit Symkyn over the head with a staff, knocking him unconscious, and the two students escaped with the corn that Symkyn had stolen.

The Cook's Tale was intended to follow the Reeve's Tale, but this tale only exists as an incomplete fragment of no more than fifty lines. Following this tale is the Man of Law's Tale. The Man of Law's Tale tells the story of Constance, the daughter of a Roman emperor who becomes engaged to the Sultan of Syria on the condition that he converts to Christianity. Angered by his order to convert his country from Islam, the mother of the Sultan assassinates her son and Constance barely escapes. She is sent on a ship that lands in Britain, where she is taken in by the warden of a nearby castle and his wife, Dame Hermengild. Both of them soon convert to Christianity upon meeting her. A young knight fell in love with Constance, but when she refused him, he murdered Dame Hermengild and attempted to frame Constance. However, when King Alla made the knight swear on the Bible that Constance murdered Hermengild, his eyes burst. Constance marries King Alla and they have a son, Mauritius, who is born when Alla is at war in Scotland. Lady Donegild contrives to have Constance banished by intercepting the letters between Alla and Constance and replacing them with false ones. Constance is thus sent away again, and on her voyage her ship comes across a Roman ship. A senator returns her to Rome, where nobody realizes that she is the daughter of the emperor. Eventually, King Alla makes a pilgrimage to Rome, where he meets Constance once more, and the Roman emperor realizes that Mauritius is his grandson and names him heir to the throne.

The Wife of Bath begins her tale with a long dissertation on marriage in which she recounts each of her five husbands. Her first several husbands were old men whom she would hector into providing for her, using guilt and refusal of sexual favors. However, the final two husbands were younger men, more difficult to handle. The final husband, Jankin, was a twenty-year-old, half the Wife of Bath's age. He was more difficult to handle, for he refused to let the Wife of Bath dominate him and read literature that proposed that women be submissive. When she tore a page out of one of his books, Jankin struck her, causing her to be deaf in one ear. However, he felt so guilty at his actions that from that point in the marriage, he was totally submissive to her and the two remained happy. The Wife of Bath's Tale is itself a story of marriage dynamic. It tells the tale of a knight who, as punishment for raping a young woman, is sentenced to death. However, he is spared by the queen, who will grant him freedom if he can answer the question "what do women want?" The knight cannot find a satisfactory answer until he meets an old crone, who promises to tell him the answer if he marries her. He agrees, and receives his freedom when he tells the queen that women want sovereignty over their husbands. However, the knight is dissatisfied that he must marry the old, low-born hag. She therefore tells him that he can have her as a wife either old and ugly yet submissive, or young and beautiful yet dominant. He chooses to have her as a young woman, and although she had authority in marriage the two were completely happy from that point.

The Friar asks to tell the next tale, and asks for pardon from the Summoner, for he will tell a tale that exposes the fraud of that profession. The Friar's Tale tells about a wicked summoner who, while delivering summons for the church court, comes across a traveling yeoman who eventually reveals himself to be the devil himself. The two share trade secrets, and the devil tells him that they will meet again in hell if the summoner continues to pursue his trade. The summoner visits an old woman and issues her a summons, then offers to accept a bribe as a payment to prevent her excommunication. The old woman believes that she is without sin and curses the summoner. The devil then appears and casts the summoner into hell.

The Summoner was enraged by the Friar's Tale. Before he begins his tale, he tells a short anecdote: a friar visited hell and was surprised to see that there were no other friars. The angel who was with him then lifted up Satan's tail and thousands of friars swarmed out from his ass. The Summoner's Tale is an equally vitriolic attack on friars. It tells of a friar who stays with an innkeeper and his wife and bothers them about not contributing enough to the church and not attending recently. When the innkeeper tells him that he was not recently in church because he has been ill and his infant daughter recently died, the friar attempted to placate him and then asked for donations once more. Thomas the innkeeper promised to give the friar a 'gift,' and gives him a loud fart.

The Clerk, an Oxford student who has remained quiet throughout the journey, tells the next tale on the orders of the Host. The Clerk's Tale tells about Walter, an Italian marquis who finally decides to take a wife after the people of his province object to his longtime status as a bachelor. Walter marries Griselde, a low-born but amazingly virtuous woman whom everybody loves. However, Walter decides to test her devotion. When their first child, a daughter, is born, Walter tells her that his people are unhappy and wish for the child's death. He takes away the child, presumably to be murdered, but instead sends it to his sister to be raised. He does the same with their next child, a son. Finally, Walter tells Griselde that the pope demands that he divorce her. He sends her away from his home completely naked, for she had no belongings when she entered his house. Each of these tragedies Griselde accepts with great patience. Walter soon decides to make amends, and sends for his two children. He tells Griselde that he will marry again, and introduces her to the presumed bride, whom he then reveals is their daughter. The family is reunited once more. The Clerk ends with the advice that women should strive to be as steadfast as Griselde, even if facing such adversity is unlikely and perhaps impossible.

The Merchant praises Griselde for her steadfast character, but claims that his wife is far different from the virtuous woman of the Clerk's story. He instead tells a tale of an unfaithful wife. The Merchant's Tale tells a story of January, an elderly blind knight who decides to marry a young woman, despite the objections of his brother, Placebo. January marries the young and beautiful May, who soon becomes dissatisfied with his constant sexual attention to her and decides to have an affair with his squire, Damian. When January and May are in their garden, May sneaks away to have sex with Damian. The gods Pluto and Proserpina come upon Damian and May and restore January's sight so that he may see what his wife is doing. When January sees what is occurring, May tells him not to believe his eyes, and he believes her.

The Squire tells the next tale, which is incomplete. The Squire's Tale begins with a mysterious knight arriving at the court of Tartary. This knight gives King Cambyuskan a mechanical horse that can transport him anywhere around the globe and return him within a day and gives Canacee, the daughter of Cambyuskan, a mirror that can discern honesty and a ring that allows the wearer to know the language of animals and the healing properties of all herbs. Canacee uses this ring to aid a bird who has been rejected in love, but the abruptly ends.

The Franklin's Tale that follows tells of the marriage between the knight Arviragus and his wife, Dorigen. When Arviragus travels on a military expedition, Dorigen laments his absence and fears that, when he returns, his ship will be wrecked upon the rocks off the shore. A young man, Aurelius, falls in love with her, but she refuses to return his favors. She agrees to have an affair with Aurelius only on the condition that he find a way to remove the rocks from the shore, a task she believes impossible. Aurelius pays a scholar who creates the illusion that the rocks have disappeared, while Arviragus returns. Dorigen admits to her husband the promise that she has made, and Arviragus tells her that she must fulfill that promise. He sends her to have an affair with Aurelius, but he realizes the pain that it would cause Dorigen and does not make her fulfill the promise. The student in turn absolves Aurelius of his debt. The tale ends with the question: which of these men behaved most honorably?

The Physician's Tale that follows tells of Virginius, a respected Roman knight whose daughter, Virginia, was an incomparable beauty. Appius, the judge who governed his town, lusted after Virginia and collaborated with Claudius, who claimed in court that Virginia was his slave and Virginius had stolen her. Appius orders that Virginia be handed over to him. Virginius, knowing that Appius and Claudius did this in order to rape his daughter, instead gave her a choice between death or dishonor. She chooses death, and Virginius chops off his daughter's head, which he brings to Appius and Claudius. The people were so shocked by this that they realized that Appius and Claudius were frauds. Appius was jailed and committed suicide, while Claudius was banished.

The Pardoner prefaces his tale with an elaborate confession about the nature of his profession. He tells the secrets of his trade, including the sale of useless items as saints' relics, and admits that his job is not to turn people away from sin, but rather to frighten them to such a degree that they pay for pardons. The Pardoner's Tale concerns three rioters who search for Death to vanquish him. They find an old man who tells them that they may find Death under a nearby tree, but under this tree they only find a large fortune. Two of the rioters send the third into town to purchase food and drink for the night, for they intend to escape with their fortune, and while he is gone they plan to murder him. The third rioter poisons the drink, intending to take all of the money for himself. When he returns, the two rioters stab him, then drink the poisoned wine and die themselves. The three rioters thus find Death in the form of avarice. The Pardoner ends his tale with a diatribe against sin, imploring the travelers to pay him for pardons, but the Host confronts him.

The next story, The Shipman's Tale, is the story of a thrifty merchant who demands that his wife repay a one hundred franc debt that she owed him. The dissatisfied wife complained about this to Dan John, a monk who stayed with him, and he agrees to pay her the sum if she has an affair with him. She consents to this, and Dan John procures the one hundred francs by borrowing it from the merchant himself. However, the merchant realizes that he has been paid with money that he had lent to the monk. The wife therefore tells him that she can repay the debt to her husband in bed.

The Prioress' Tale tells the story of a young Christian child who lived in a town in Asia that was dominated by a vicious Jewish population. When the child learned Alma redemptoris, a song praising the Virgin Mary, he traveled home from school singing this. The Jews, angry at his behavior, took the child and slit his throat, leaving him in a cesspool to die. The boy's mother searched frantically for her son. When she found him, he was not yet dead, for the Virgin Mary had placed a grain on his tongue that would allow him to speak until it was removed. When this was removed, the boy passed on to heaven. The story ends with a lament for the young boy and a curse for the Jews who perpetrated the heinous crime.

Chaucer himself tells the next tape, The Tale of Sir Thopas, a florid and fantastical poem in rhyming couplets that serves only to annoy the other pilgrims. The Host interrupts Chaucer shortly into this tale, and tells him to tell another. Chaucer then tells The Tale of Melibee, one of the few tales that is in prose format. This tale tells about Melibee, a powerful ruler whose enemies rape his wife, Prudence, and nearly murder his daughter, Sophie. When deciding whether to declare war on his enemies, Prudence advises him to remain merciful, and they engage in a long debate over the appropriate course of action. Melibee finally gives his enemies the option: they can receive a sentence either from him or from his wife. They submit to Melibee's judgment, and he intends to disinherit and banish the perpetrators. However, he submits to his wife's plea for mercy.

The Monk's Tale is not a narrative tale at all, but instead an account of various historical and literary figures who experience a fall from grace. These include Adam, Samson, Hercules, King Pedro of Spain, Bernabo Visconti, Nero, Julius Caesar, and Croesus. The Knights interrupts the Monk's Tale, finding his listing of historical tragedies monotonous and depressing.

The Nun's Priest's Tale tells the story of the rooster Chanticleer and the hen Pertelote. Chanticleer was ill one night and had a disturbing dream that he was chased by a fox. He feared this dream was prophetic, but Pertelote assured him that his dream merely stemmed from his illness and that he should find herbs to cure himself. Chanticleer insists that dreams are signifiers, but finally agrees with his wife. When he searches for herbs, Chanticleer is indeed chased by a fox, but is saved when Pertelote squawks, alerting the woman who owns the farm where the two fowl live and causing her to chase the fox away.

Chaucer follows this with The Second Nun's Tale. This tale is a biography of Saint Cecilia, who converts her husband and brother to Christianity during the time of the Roman empire, when Christian beliefs were illegal. Her brother and husband are executed for their beliefs, and she herself is cut three times with a sword during her execution, but does not immediately die. Rather, she lingers on for several more days, during which time she orders that her property be distributed to the poor. Upon her death Pope Urban declared her a saint.

After the Second Nun finishes her tale, a Canon (alchemist) and his Yeoman join the band of travelers. The Canon had heard how they were telling tales, and wished to join them. The Yeoman speaks incessantly about the Canon, telling fantastical stories about his work, but this annoys the Canon, who suddenly departs. The Yeoman therefore decides to tell a tale himself. The Canon's Yeoman's Tale is a story of the work of a canon and the means by which they defraud people by making them think that they can duplicate money.

The Host tells the Cook to tell the next tale, but he is too drunk to coherently tell one. The Manciple therefore tells his story. The Manciple's Tale is the story of how Phoebus, when he assumed mortal form, was a jealous husband. He monitored his wife closely, fearing that she would be unfaithful. Phoebus had a white crow that could speak the language of humans and could sing beautiful. When the white crow learns that Phoebus' wife was unfaithful, Phoebus plucks him and curses the crow. According to the Manciple, this explains why crows are black and can only sing in an unpleasant tone.

The Parson tells the final tale. The Parson's Tale is not a narrative tale at all, however, but rather an extended sermon on the nature of sin and the three parts necessary for forgiveness: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. The tale gives examples of the seven deadly sins and explains them, and also details what is necessary for redemption. Chaucer ends the tales with a retraction, asking those who were offended by the tales to blame his rough manner and lack of education, for his intentions were not immoral, while asking those who found something redeemable in the tales to give credit to Christ.