The Canterbury Tales Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Donaldson examines the role of rhetoric in "The Nun's Priest's Tale."

It is the nature of the beast fable, of which the "Nun's Priest's Tale" is an example, to make fun of human attitudes by assigning them to the lower animals. Perhaps no other form of satire has proved so charming throughout literary history. From Aesop's fables through the medieval French mock-epic Reynard the Fox (upon a version of which the "Nun's Priest's Tale" relies for its slight plot), down to La Fontaine and Br'er Rabbit, the beast who acts like a man has enjoyed general popularity. In the "Nun's Priest's Tale" one of the most charming of poets has given the genre a superbly comic expression. Yet much of the tale's humor lies neither in its plot nor in the equivalence of man and beast, but in the extraordinary dilation of the...

(read more from the Critical Essay #18 section)

This section contains 1,564 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Canterbury Tales Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Canterbury Tales from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.