Chaucer: The Nun's priests tale

Essay by zee7903University, Master'sB, February 2007

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Opinion is the better description?

Chaucer with the use of a beast fable has helped to elevate what would be considered a conventionally boring set of animals, and turn them into portrayals of human beings. As a cock he may have came from the same batch of eggs as his hens, but as poultry it would not matter whether Chauntecleer mates with his sisters. However some critics suggest the introduction of the human concept of love, allows Chaucer to make an indiscriminate joke about the behaviour of chickens and the impropriety of such behaviour among people. This suggests that the farmyard is a microcosm of society. Which leaves in no doubt that they are animals dressed as human beings. I feel that this is the stronger description as it fits in more suitably with the concept of a beast fable.

The first description we have of Chauntecleer is 'hight Chauntecleer.'

This description demonstrates to us the cock's most notable quality (dear singer), which some critics suggest has connotations of human behaviour, this would support the description animals described as humans. The narrator describes him with all the attributes of a bird with his crowing, claws, legs and where his 'coomb was redder than fyn coral' and his 'byle blak'. Likewise in his behaviour he is a bird, being the only cock among seven hens; however as with the widow the vocabulary used in the depiction both of the appearance and conduct of the cock and Pertelote suggest a world far removed from that of the farmyard which would support animals dressed as human beings.

The deconstruction together with the imagery and vocabulary that Chaucer uses portrays the noble, proud, and bearing of his hero the cock, yet links his description with human associations. This combination of human and avian is...