The Nun’s Priest’s Tale Summary

                             The Nun’s Priest’s Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) 

Key information about the poet: 

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) is an author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat diplomat etc. He has been called the father of English literature and father of English poetry. Widely he considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, he is best known for the Canterbury Tales. It is a collection of 24 stories told by a group of 30 pilgrims who travel from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas Beckett. Chaucer did not finish the work before he died. 

key information about the poem: 

Composed date: 1390s 

lines: 626 

Genre: Narrative poem and it is a beast fable and mock epic which based on an incident in the Reynard circle. 

Themes: Flattery, Dream, pride. 

Moral lesson: One should not trust a flatterer. 


Lady Pertelote (the hen):  She was a loving, Judgemental, smart, courstous, would never marry a coward. She was a beautiful lady and she was the heroine of this poem. And  She loved Chanticleer very much. 

Chanticleer ( the rooster): He was a convenes Quick-thinking Good looking. And in all the land, no cock was his equal at crowing. His voice was merrier than the merry organ which plays in the church on mass- days. His comb was redder than fine coral, and it was indented as if it were a castle wall His bill was black, and it shone like a jet. His legs and his toes were sky-blue His nails were whiter than the lily, and his colour was like burnished gold. He performed his many tasks very well seems used to u “dealling” with pertelote, quickly goes into a story about why dreams do matter. 

Sir Russel (The Fox): He was considered the villain of this poem. And he was very sly Gullible, smart, a quick The ‘demon that chanticleer had a nightmare about, seen as a treacherous murder in the eyes of the reader is should not be conceived as evil.  

old widow:  The old widow lived in a small cottage situated close to a grove and standing in a valley. she was dedicated hard-working, adjusted. She worked hard for the survival of her daughters. She had three sows, three cows, and also a sheep that was called moll and some hens. 

Narrator:  He was talkative Wise and informative.. 


A poor old widow lived in a small cottage with her two daughters. She owned a few animals and some poultry Her cock was called Chanticleers This cock had no equal at crowing and he was splendid to look at He had seven wives to give him all the pleasure that he wanted The best of these hens was called Pertelote. Pertelote was courtly in her manners, discerning in Judgment, and gracious She was Chanticleer’s favourite wife, and she to loved him. 

One day at dawn Chanticleer began to groan like one who feels sorely troubled On being asked by Pertelote what ailed him, he replied that he had Soon a frightening monster in his dream and that he was feeling nervous because of the disaster that his dream portended. Pertelote felt very disappointed to find that her husband was a coward because he was feeling scared of a mere dream Pertelote did not believe that dreams were any indications of forthcoming events. Bad dreams, she said to Chanticleer, were produced by overheating or by an excess of some humour in the body. She urged Chanticleer to take some laxative, and she suggested a number of herbs which Chanticleer could peck at and eat to relieve his ailment She also quoted Cato who had said that dreams deserved no attention. 

Chanticleer was, however, not convinced by his wife’s views. He said that many persons of greater authority than Cato had expressed the opposite opinion and had found by experience that dreams were signs of coming troubles as well as of coming joys. Chanticleer then narrated two stories derived from the writings of Cicero to support this view. 

Chanticleer’s first story related to two friends who, on their way to a pilgrimage, stopped at a town to spend the night. There being an extreme scarcity of accommodation in the town, the two friends had to stay at different places. One of these two men dreamt in his sleep that his friend was speaking to him and telling him that he was going to be murdered. He woke up from his sleep but, thinking his dream to be a mere fancy, he went to sleep again. He saw the same dream for the second time. The third time his friend told him in the dream that he had actually been murdered now and that his dead body had secretly been hidden in a cart full of dung. In the morning, this man went to the place where his friend had been lodged for the night but was told by the hostler that his companion had already gone. Feeling suspicious, this man went to the west gate of the town and found a dung-cart answering to thedescription given by his friend in the dream In the midst of the dung the dead Nady was discovered. Murder, said Chanticicer, can never remain concealed The murderer in this case was soon found and hanged. Unpleasant dreams must therefore be feared, said Chanticleer. The second story told by Chanticleer concerned two men who decided to cross the sea in order to go to a distant country. On the eve of their departure. 

one of the two men saw a dream in his sleep In the dream he received a warning that, in case he sailed next morning, he would be drowned On the basis of the dream, this man tried to dissuade his companion trom undertaking the voyage the next day, But his companion laughed away the dream and, leaving-him behind, boarded a ship and sailed away. However, before the ship had covered half its yoyage, it inexplicably sank in the sea and all the passengers were drowned. Chanticleer went on to illustrate his point with reference to the dreams of certain other persons, such as Kenelm, Scipio, Daniel, Joseph, an Egyptian king (and also his baker and butler), King Croesus, and Andromache, the wife of Hector. As for laxatives, Chanticleer rejected the suggestion out of hand, saying that he believed laxatives to be poisonous. Chanticleer then changed the subject. He told Pertelote that he was fortunate in having her as his wife because she was a source of joy and bliss to him. And, with that, he flew down from the rafter into the yard, forgetting the danger that the dream had signified. 

A sly fox  had in the meantime brokep through the hedges into the yard Pertelote, and all her sisters (that is the other hens) were enjoying the sunshine in the sand, and Chanticleer, feeling perfectly care-free. song merrily. However, the moment Chanticleer became aware of the fox, which was lying low, he cried at once “plock, cluck”, and jumped up like one who was thoroughly frightened. Chanticleer would have fled from the spot, but the fox spoke to him in an ingratiáting manner and said that he had come there just to hear the cock’s merry singing. The fox praised Chanticleer for having the voice of an angel and for having more feeling for music than Boethius or anyone else. The fox also praised the singing of Chanticleer’s late father. The fox then urged Chanticleer to sing in a loud voice so that he could judge whether Chanticleer sang a delightfully as Chanticleer’s father used to do Chanticleer was overwhelmed by the fox’s words of praise and, oblivious of the danger, he stood high upon his toes, closing his eyes and stretching his neck, and began to crow aloud for the occasion Sir Russell, the fox, leaped up at once and seizing Chanticleer by the throat, started running toward the wood. The hens, on realising what had happened, started screaming. Pertelote being the loudest in her shrieks. The poor widow and her two daughters ran out of doors and seeing the fox going toward the grove with the cock on his back, shouted for help, and a chase started. The dogs, the hogs, the cow and the calf all joined in the uproar and yelled like fiends in hell. Surely jack straw  and his men did not utter shouts half so shrill when they slaughtered the Flemings in London as were produced that day around the fox. 

In the meantime, Chanticleer had recovered his presence of mind, Addressing the fox, he said, “Sir, If I were in your place, I would just pause for a moment and, turning toward the pursuers, would speak a few words of defiance to them and tell them that now nothing would deter me from cating the cock.” It was now the fox’s turn to be taken in by a trick; and, unthinkingly the fox answered, Sure, I shall do so. The moment the fox opened his mouth to speak these words, the cock flew out of the fox’s mouth and perched himself high upon a tree. The fox, realising his folly, tried to regain Chanticleer’s confidence by speaking sweet words but Chanticleer could not be trapped a second time. Chanticleer told him that he could no longer be induced through the fox’s flattery, to close his eyes and sing because he, who closes his eyes when he should see, must never prosper. The fox’s reply to this was that he who could not exercise self-control and talked foolishly when he should hold his tongue, must not prosper either. 


Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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