The Prioress's Tale Notes from The Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales The Prioress's Tale

In one part of Asia, there was a Jewry for usury and other such ill-renown tasks, who hated Christ and all Christians. On the other side of the town, there was a small school for Christian children. A widow's son of seven years attended the school, where he kneeled in prayer to the Virgin Mary and was reverent of all subjects relating to Christ the savior. He prayed, yet never knew what the songs meant, for they were in Latin. He asked an older student what the songs meant in his own language, and the student responded that it is for the Virgin Mary. The young boy learned the song and sang it over and over again with glory in his voice. One day he walked through the Jewry singing the song to Jesus's mother and enraged the Jewish usurer. He conspired with the other Jews to chase this boy down and cut his throat in vengeance.

Topic Tracking: Christianity 9
Topic Tracking: Violence 13

The widow, worried about her son, set out to find him. She was told he was last seen in the Jewry and she prayed to the mother of Jesus that he be alive. The provost of the school carried the slain boy away and bound the Jews. "This Provost dooth the Jewes for to sterve, / That of this mordre wiste, and that anon. / He nolde no swich cursednesse observe; / Yvele shal have that yvele wol deserve." Prioress's Tale, l.142-145. The Jews were hanged and the boy was placed on the altar preparing for his coffin. Upon contact with the holy water, the young boy opened his eyes, spoke, and came back to life, despite the cut of his throat. He says that the Virgin Mary spoke to him and protected him from all death so that he may sing to her, as he has always done, by placing a small pearl in his mouth. The abbot removed the pearl, at the boy's request, returning him to his death and placing him in the status of a martyr.

Topic Tracking: Christianity 10

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