Free Study Guide for The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer|
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ONLINE BOOKNOTES -THE CANTERBURY TALES
The Cook has thoroughly enjoyed The Reeve’s Tale and thinks that the Miller
had justifiably received what he deserved. The Cook then offers to tell
a funny story that actually happened in his city. The host jokingly adds
that he must tell a good tale to compensate for all the stale pies that
he has sold to the pilgrims. The Cook, named Roger, takes this joke in
a good spirit and tells his tale.
An apprentice Cook lived in London. He was a good looking man of a stocky
build and had stylish long black hair. He danced so well that people named
him Perkin Reveler (Peter Playboy). He would sing and dance at every wedding
feast. He was fonder of the tavern than of minding the shop-counter. He
spent most of his time in the company of his own sort of people and went
with them for dancing, singing and gambling. His master came to know about
his loose habits when he noticed money missing from the shop-counter.
Although the master tolerated Perkin, one day he decided that one rotten
can spoil the entire basket and dismissed Perkin. However Perkin was unaffected
by his dismissal and was instead glad because he was now free to enjoy
himself all night. He moved in with his friend whose wife kept a shop
to mask her activities as a prostitute.
The Cook is a repulsive figure. His suppurating sore suggests filthy personal
habits and the Host accuses him of serving stale food. The Cook’s Tale
is unfinished. It deals with an apprentice cook. It was probably intended
as the last merry tale in the first fragment. Its plot is very similar
to the earlier tales. The plot contains an eligible woman, the wife of
the apprentice’s friend who keeps a shop to mask her activities as a prostitute.
Perhaps this is an indication that there are two rivals vying for the
hand of this lady - her dissolute husband and Perkin Reveler. However
since the plot does not develop the reader does not get the full picture.
Perhaps the Cook’s Tale was meant to be more raunchy than the Reeve’s
tale through which Chaucer intended to depict the London low life. The
setting of the Cook’s tale with its taverns and shops is a sharp contrast
to the glamorous world of The Knight’s Tale.
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. 10 May 2008