Plot Summaries of important tales
Terms in this set (6)
Arcite and Palamon, imprisoned by Theseus, fall in love with Emily. Arcite is released and returns to Athens in disguise to work at Emily's estate. Palamon drugs a guard to escape and soon duels Arcite over Emily. Theseus tells them to gather armies for a battle. Palamon prays to Venus, Emily to Diana, and Arcite to Mars. Arcite is declared the winner, until Saturn intervenes and Arcite dies, leaving Palamon as the ultimate victor.
John the Carpenter and his young wife Allison live with scholar Nicholas. Nicholas convinces Allison to have sex with him while John is away, and Absolon the clerk fails to win her favor with love songs. Nicholas convinces John that a flood is coming, and sneaks off with Allison while John waits in a tub. Absolon is tricked into kissing her arse with his eyes closed, which, as well as a fart, prompt him to burn Nicholas with hot metal. Nicholas' cries for water cause John to cut the rope and fall to the floor, breaking his arm.
Simkin, a bullying and thieving miller with an illegitimate wife and beautiful daughter, is visited by scholars John and Allan, who watch as he grinds their wheat to outsmart him. He unties their horse and steals much of their flour. They return and pay to spend the night, and Allan has sex with the daughter. John moves the cradle so the wife sleeps with him. In the morning, Allan mistakenly tells the miller of their activities, which results in a fight. The wife mistakenly knocks out Simkin instead of the scholars, who escape, with their stolen flour and horse.
Wife of Bath's Tale
In her prologue she explains her five marriages beginning at age 12. Her first three were rich, old, and submissive; she would manipulate them and falsely accuse them of affairs. Her fourth husband reminds her of her old age, and she tries to make him jealous. She loved her fifth husband even while she was still with the 4th, who died, and despite his poverty and abuse of her. Her tale begins with a knight who rapes a young maiden, and his fate is to be decided by the Queen, who prompts him to find out what women most desire in a year. After failing to find an answer for a year, he asks an old hag for help on the final day before his return. The hag tells him women desire control over their husbands, which saves his life. She demands he marry her. On their wedding night, she asks if he would prefer her to be beautiful or faithful, and he leaves the choice up to her, and she chooses both.
Nun's Priest's Tale
A proud and handsome rooster, Chauntecleer, dreams of his impending doom caused by a fox. He discusses his dream with Pertelote, one of his wives, and tells her stories in which people's dreams came true. The following day, a fox tricks the rooster into trusting him, and strikes when the rooster closes his eyes to sing. Chauntecleer then tricks the fox into opening his mouth to taunt his pursuers, the barn animals, and escapes into a tree. Thus it is a fable about the dangers of pride.
Three drunks set out from a pub to find and kill Death, who has taken their friend's life. An old man they encounter says that he has asked to die but been refused, and that Death can be found at the foot of a certain oak tree, where the men find bags of gold. They draw straws to decide who will go into town for supplies while the others guard their treasure. The younger man poisons the wine, and the two stab him to death, so they all end up dead. The tale is an exemplum about the danger of greed, even though the teller himself is greedy.
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