The Franklin's Interruption of the Squire in the Canterbury Tales

Essay by Justin WilsonUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

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The Squire's tale ends two lines into its third section, and following this abrupt termination is the 'wordes of the Frankeleyn to the Squier.' The Franklin praises the young Squire's attempt at a courtly romance and says that he wishes his own son was more like the Squire. This is followed by the 'wordes of the Hoost to the Frankeleyn.' Many critics believe that the words of the Franklin to the Squire are intended as an interruption of the tale that threatens to go on far too long. However, I believe the words of the Franklin to the Squire were not meant to be an interruption at all. There are four main reasons why I believe the passage was not meant to be an interruption:

one, the Franklin's admiration of gentillesse would have made him reluctant to interrupt the Squire; two, the passage ends two lines into the third section when the logical place for an interruption would be at the end of the second section (Clark, 160-161); three, the passage is similar to that of the Host to Chaucer after his Tale of Melibee- which was an end comment, not an interruption ; and four, the structure and tone of the passage does not seem to be that of an interruption.

In praising the Squire, the Franklin mentions how he is impressed with his 'gentilly' (674) or 'gentillesse' (694). If we are to believe what the Franklin is saying, that he admires his gentillesse and that he wishes his son 'myghte lerne gentillesse aright' (694), we should also assume the Franklin would try and also show gentillesse. In fact, from the General Prologue we know that the Franklin was a member of Parliament and a feudal landholder (Clark 161). Both were positions in higher society in which he would...