Seniors charmed by medieval tales


Zoe Chan, Zoe Chan

Among all the required reading for seniors are classics like “Frankenstein” and “Hamlet,” but my personal favorite is a story – well, several stories – that are relatively unheard of: “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer.

As a story of storytelling (think Arabian Nights), stories are told from each traveler on a journey to Canterbury.

The introduction starts out innocently enough, with flowery descriptions of each traveler.

The tales themselves also start out pretty dry, but once you get past all the old English, you realize they’re pretty ridiculous. The ones my class was required to read were “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” “The Pardoner’s Tale” and the “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.”

“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” is about a knight that has to save his life by marrying an ugly old lady, who then turns into a beautiful one.

“The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is about an intellectual rooster named Chauntecleer who dreams about getting carried off by a fox and talks to one of his wives (also a chicken) about it, but ends up getting carried off anyways.

Luckily, he taunts the fox into opening his mouth to gloat about his victory, which allows Chauntecleer to escape.

Make sense?

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

My favorite by far, however, isn’t any of the above. Is it unfair to talk about a tale from this story even though it isn’t required reading?

Absolutely not. Reading is a very important skill, and something you should do everyday, even if it’s not required. Besides, “The Miller’s Tale” is a wonderful story for mature young minds.

It starts off with a couple, John and his younger wife Alisoun, as well as their boarder, Nicholas. One day John goes out to the market, so Nicholas gets it on with John’s wife while he’s out.

They start having an affair. Nicholas gets tired of only spending a few hours with Alisoun, so he devises a plan to get John out of the house for a full night. He convinces John (not a difficult task) that the Second Flood is coming, and that he must hang washtubs from the roof and sleep in them, so that when the flood comes he can cut the ropes and float safely away.

With John safely out of the picture, Nicholas and Alisoun head to his room. However, Absolon, the local parish clerk who also has the hots for Alisoun, shows up and asks for a kiss. Alisoun doesn’t like Absolon, so she presents her butt, and he “kissed her naked arse full savorly”.

Absolon gets mad, so he gets a red-hot poker from the blacksmith then comes back to ask for another “kiss”, intending to present the poker instead of his lips. This time Nicholas is the one to stick his derriere out the window, so he is the one that gets burnt when Absolon stabs him in the backside with the poker. (The original text contains a graphic description of the burns Nicholas sustained. I have left it out. You’re welcome.)

In deep pain, Nicholas screams for water, which causes John to wake up in a panic. He thinks the flood is coming, so he slashes the rope holding his tub to the roof, and falls down and breaks his arm.

If that wasn’t enough, the villagers thinks he’s crazy when he starts blabbing about the second flood.

The end.

Ah, the joys of reading.

Worst Novel

The first day I brought “David Copperfield” home, I left it on my desk. My mom walked in shortly and asked, “What’s that box on your des- oh. That is not a box.” It was, in fact, the 734- page horror that was to be my soap opera for the next month. Not even a good soap opera. David doesn’t confess his love for The One until page 722.

Who names their kid Uriah anyways?

Having actually read all 734 pages, I don’t feel particularly accomplished. I wouldn’t say I regret reading the book, but I feel like my time could have been better spent. On “The Miller’s Tale,” perhaps.