The Nun’s Priest’s Tale was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 1390’s. It is one of the Canterbury Tales and is an impressive example of the literary style known as a bestiary, or a beast fable. In this fable animals behave like human beings. The idea of the fable is to show that humans behave like animals, vice versa. Thus, it is often meant to insult a man or to comment on his weaknesses.
This tale is written with the use of the technique called “mock-heroic”. This technique picks an ordinary event and describes it as something of tremendous importance.
When Don Russel, the fox, runs off with Chaunticleer, the cock, in his jaws, every creature in the building becomes involved in the chase. This scene is narrated in the elevated language of the great epics as if the fox were an epic hero. This language use emphasizes the comic absurdity of the situation.
The author also uses the mock-heroic tone in other instances. The Nun's Priest describes the capture of Don Russel and compares him to other famous traitors, while barnyard animals discuss high philosophical and theological questions. These highly intellectual conversations of barnyard chickens are comic irony. Humans lose much of their dignity and are reduced to animal values in this tale.
The Nun’s Priest thinks ironically of the simple life of the widow and the life of the rich Chaunticleer. The opening lines of the Nun's Priest show the contrast. The reader sees a poor old widow with little income, leading a modest life. The author wants to say that it is easier for the poor person to lead a Christian way of life than for the rich one, who has many obligations and responsibilities. He ironically mentions that if Chaunticleer does not crow at dawn, the sun will not rise. He also mentions his other serious responsibilities, such as taking care of his wives, which are silly as well.
The narrator’s method also included in his merry analysis of human pride is an ironic description of Chaunticleer as an extremely dignified character. The adjectives he uses to describe Chaunticleer should rather be used to describe the elegant and noble knight in shining armor.
The reader should realize the ironic contrast between the barnyard and the real world, which is compared to the barnyard. Through the examples of animals, the author shows that people are prone to flattery and treachery. At the end of the tale the animals learn their lessons and understand that their disadvantages can lead them to downfall.
The Nun’s Priest’s Tale was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 1390’s. It is one of the Canterbury Tales and is an impressive example of the literary style known as a bestiary, or a beast fable. In this fable animals behave like human beings. The idea of the fable is to show that humans behave like animals, vice versa.