Comparing and Contrasting "The Friar's Tale" and "The Summoner's Tale" Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

Essay by CollisionHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2008

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The allegory and fabliau, “The Friar’s Tale” and “The Summoner’s Tale” of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, convey analogous characteristics yet concurrently express differences. The Friar and the Summoner, in both “The Friar’s Tale” and “The Summoner’s Tale” intend to degrade and humiliate each other’s profession. Both the Summoner and the Friar fib in order to achieve their ultimate goal of riches. The Summoner in “The Friar’s Tale” is an impersonal representation of all summoners, while the Friar in “The Summoner’s Tale” is portrayed in a more realistic manner. The “The Friar’s Tale” uses a cynical twist whereas “The Summoner’s Tale” is a fabliau. Only one Summoner in “The Friar’s Tale” is sent to hell, while all the friars in “The Summoner’s Tale” are depicted in hell. In one’s opinion the Summoner receives a more severe punishment than the Friar Hubert had received. Nonetheless, the evident victor in this “battle of wits” would be the Friar Hubert.

“The Friar’s Tale” is told by the Friar Hubert and is solely intended to humiliate summoners in general. The Friar Hubert shows only a business rivalry, not hatred towards the Summoner. The Friar Hubert says, “I’ll talk about a summoner, for a game, Lord knows, one can be certain from the name a summoner isn’t much to be commended. I hope that none of you will be offended” (293). The Summoner was angered and furious, yet he still only wanted to sully the name of friars. The Summoner says, “‘I’ve only one desire,’ he said, ‘its brief, and one your courtesy will not deny; since you have heard this filthy friar lie, let me refute him” (303). The Summoner feels bitterness and rage, so he starts his tale with an epilogue of great humiliation towards the friars.

Through common knowledge, we...