The Manciple’s Tale

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

Once there was a time on earth when the god of poetry, Phoebus, lived as being the most lustful bachelor in the world. He also kept a white crow who could speak in any man’s tone and language and could sing better than the nightingale.

He had a beautiful wife whom he kept with too much affection and courtesy but also was possessive of her. He couldn’t bear the thought of her touching another man. Therefore, he kept her under strict surveillance.

At this point, the narrator tells us that if one’s is faithful there’s no need to keep eye on her, but no amount of strict caging would if one’s wife is disloyal.

The narrator gives the example of a bird who never likes to be caged no matter how great the cage is, arguing that we can never train animals to leave their natural animalistic instincts. Hence, an unfaithful wife would remain unfaithful even when she’s caged.

One day when Phoebus was away, his wife sends for her lover who has a little reputation. The white crow sees them making love and doesn’t anything until Phoebus comes back.

When he’s back, the crow cries cuckold, cuckold. Not recognizing what it was saying, Phoebus thinks he’s singing a new song. But the crow makes it clear that his wife has slept with a man of little reputation.

Haring this Phoebus’ heart breaks into two, he picks up his bow and arrow and murders his wife. Frustrated by the sorrow of wife’s death, he breaks everything that belongs to her.

Later he returns to the crow, calls him a traitor and a liar. Filled with anger, he pulls out each of crow’s white feather and blackens them, snatches its speech and songs, throws him out of the window and making the crow of all the generation black.