The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Summary and Analysis The Cook's Prologue and Tale

Summary

Roger, the London cook, rejoices in the Reeve's tale and thinks that the crooked miller was well repaid for trying to cheat the two students and ridiculing their education. The Cook promises a lively tale, and the Host reminds him that he has to tell a very good tale, indeed, to repay the company for all of the bad food he has sold to them.


An apprentice cook, named Perkin Reveler, works in London and loves dancing, singing, gambling, carousing, and all types of sinful things. After being dismissed by his master, the young man is free to revel all night and day and joins another young man as corrupt as he is and moves his bed and belongings into his place. The man's wife keeps a shop, which is a front for her immoral activities.

Analysis

In the prologue to The Cook's Tale, the Host chides the Cook for all the seemingly bad food he has sold to them. In reality, though, this tale was to be a tale to repay the earlier narrators. At the end of his prologue, the Cook suggests that he will tell a tale about a publican (tavern owner) but decides to wait until the return trip home. This fits with Chaucer's original plan of having the pilgrims tell stories both on the way to Canterbury and back.

This fragment of a tale, which Chaucer neither finished nor deleted, is not long enough for one to predict accurately what happens to young Perkin Reveler, but the indications are that he falls rapidly into sin. The early implications are that this unfinished tale was to be of the same general type as the Miller's and the Reeve's and was apparently to have dealt with the total perversion of the human soul. To say more would be pure conjecture.

Glossary

Salomon the Book of Solomon x, 25 in the Apocrypha.

Jack of Dover possibly a reference to a meat pie.

Chepe today, London's Cheapside. In Chaucer's time, it was a favorite scene of festivals and processions.

"with revel to Newgate" In Chaucer's time, when a man was taken to prison, he was most often preceded by revelers and minstrels so as to call public attention to his disgrace. Until the 19th century, Newgate was the most prominent debtors' prison in the world.

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