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

Summary

At the completion of The Merchant's Tale, someone — the host, we assume — suggests that, because the squire knows about love, he give another tale about love. The Squire agrees but asks to be excused if he says anything amiss.


A noble king, Cambuskan, has two sons and a beautiful daughter named Canace (or Canacee). On the twentieth anniversary of Cambuskan's reign, the king orders a splendid and lavish celebration. In the midst of the feast, an unknown knight appears and announces that he has come to the celebration bearing gifts from his own sovereign lord, the king of Araby. One of these gifts, which the king gives to his daughter, is a magical ring that enables the wearer to speak the language of any living thing, be it bird, animal, or bush.

The next morning, Canace hears the pathetic cry of a lady falcon, and through the power of the magical ring she is wearing, she discovers that the falcon's grief is the result of having been wooed and won and then abandoned by a handsome young falcon (tercelet). The jilted lady falcon, in her remorse, has wandered over the earth. She is so weak, in fact, that she faints in the tree, and Canace catches her and nurses her back to health.

The Squire plans to tell other stories involving the victories of his family and the magic gifts, but the Franklin interrupts.

Analysis

We will never know why Chaucer left The Squire's Tale unfinished. It can be noted that the description of Cambuskan echoes Chaucer's description of the Squire in The Prologue and that the Squire's flowery recitation, despite its moments of beauty, is very often rather silly and too elaborate.

Everything about The Squire's Tale, before the Franklin interrupts, resembles countless similar stories found in Oriental literature. The tale aptly fits the character of the Squire, who has been to strange lands and perhaps heard of many strange magical events.

Glossary

Tartary, Surray the name of the kingdom in southeastern Russia near the Chinese border, today it is known as Tartary.

Cambuskan F.N. Robinson points out that the name was chosen so as to resemble Genghis ("Cambyus" or Chingis) Khan ("skan").

Aristotle, Alhazen (Alocen), Witelo (Vitulon) learned men — a philosopher, an astronomer, and a mathematician, respectively — who wrote of the powers of mirrors.

Telephus the Mysian king who was wounded by Achilles but also used the magic of Achilles' sword to heal himself.

Aldiran a star in the constellation Leo.

Jason, Paris, Lamech Jason deserted Medea to marry a princess; Paris stole Helen from Menelaus, causing the Trojan war; and Lamech married two women at the same time.

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