The Canon’s Yeoman Tale

In this article will discuss The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale Summary in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

The actual tale begins when the yeoman has made long commentary on alchemy, has explained his days with his master and how his master has been a failure in achieving philosopher’s stone and in alchemy, etc. He criticizes the practice of alchemy and also presents a critical view of his master in an indirect way.

Yeoman tells the tale of Canon who is sly and a cheat. He turns anybody act like madmen. Even though, people come from far away to meet him.

The Yeoman comes aside and asks for forgiveness to the Canon, saying that he’s telling the tale of a bad Canon and is not commenting on all the Canons in general.

One day, in London, the canon visits a priest and asks him to lend him gold. The priest provides him with some gold and the Canon returns the gold after three as he has promised the priest.

The priest gets really impressed by Canon and asks him to speak on the value and importance of keeping one’s word. However, before speaking on the topic, he asks the priest to show them something.

He shows the tricks by converting quicksilver into silver and making gold out of chalk. The Canon asks to bring mercury and coal. He a piece of a coal and shows to the priest, and when the priest is not looking changes it with another piece that is filled with silver, stopped by the wax.

He asks the priest to throw that in the fire. The wax melts in the fire and the silver comes out giving the impression of coal being turned into silver.

He asks, then, for a chalk and promises to turn that into the gold of the same shape. While nobody is looking, slyly, he inserts a metal rode in the chalk. When the chalk is put in the water, the chalk melts, leaving the metal rode to show up.

He succeeds in impressing people with his tricks and fetches a good amount of money from people in the name of wisdom and trickery.

Yeoman advises people not go after what God has not made seen; if he has left something to be unseen, leave it unseen. One should not spend his/her hard earned money on foolish things.