The Prologue / Tale of Melibeus Notes from The Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales The Prologue / Tale of Melibeus

The host argues over the tales and the futility of Melibeus's rhyme. He says that he will try to point out the morals of his story as they come, and prays that he does not sound repetitive, for he comes towards the end of the pilgrim's tales.

This section of The Canterbury Tales is not so much a tale, as Chaucer calls it a "treatise" that is written in prose and not completed. It cites Ovid and Seneca, among other great philosophical minds of the past, and details the moralistic story of Melibeus. Melibeus married the dutiful Prudence and had a daughter named Sophie. Sophie was viciously murdered one day in five places: her feet, hands, ears, nose, and mouth. Melibeus cried for his daughter and declared his revenge on her attackers. The tales becomes a test of courage and restraint, as Prudence tries to sway him away from vengeance with the voice of reason. The physicians announce Sophie's miraculous recovery as the townspeople discuss a course of action. Melibeus's desires are turned down and he eventually listens and agrees to Prudence's moralistic actions. Prudence convinces Melibeus to put his trust in fortune and give up revenge. Prudence arranges a peace treatise between Melibeus and his enemies, although he does not quite grasp the meaning behind Prudence's philosophical words. The tale ends with a prayer onto the Lord.

Topic Tracking: Violence 14

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