Tuesday, October 1, 2013


In The Cook's Prologue [lines 4325-4364] and The Cook's Tale [lines 4365-4422], the Cook comments on the Miller's tale, and then starts his own (which was left unfinished by Chaucer).


The Cook is amused by the Miller's tale, and introduces his tale as "a funny thing that happened in our city" [line 4343]. The Host tells him to make sure his story is interesting, and sort of insults his cooking skills. The Cook good-naturedly acknowledges that what the Host has said is true, and then begins his story.

His tale is about a victuals apprentice who was such a good dancer that he was called the Perkin Reveler. The Reveler was handsome, energetic, a ladies' man, and good at singing and gambling as well as dancing. Whenever there was any kind of party or gathering he couldn't resist going, causing him to often shirk his apprentice duties. The Cook comments that it wasn't fair to his master, because while the apprentice is off having fun, it's the master who suffers the loss of work. So, the master recalled the "bad apple" proverb, and accordingly fired the Perkin Reveler so he wouldn't spoil the other apprentices. Now without a job, the Reveler went to live with a like-minded friend, who had a wife and a shop. Here, the tale is cut short.

Indirect characterization

  • the Cook likes stories (as opposed to getting really bored at listening to other people talk), shown by how much he enjoyed the Miller's tale [lines 4325-4326]
  • he is probably a Christian because he references God [line 4335]
  • he is a bad cook, based on the Host's list of dishes he's ruined [lines 4346-4352]
  • he likes giving advice and has a strong sense of morality, based on his repeated use of sayings ("Into your house not every man invite" [line 4331], "true jest, bad jest" [line 4357], and "A rotten apple's better thrown away before it spoils the barrel." [lines 4406-4407]) and his comments on how the Reveler's partying is unfair to his master
  • however, he probably also likes dancing himself, because his initial description of the Reveler [lines 4365-4387] is a positive one

Chaucer's purpose

I'll admit that I'm aaaaaactually not sure what Chaucer's purpose is here. The Cook has this weird double-irony thing going on: he's a cook, except he's all sloppy and disgusting, except that he's actually really good-natured and happy all the time. I don't really get it. Coupled with the fact that his tale is unfinished, and it's not even about the Cook anyway (unless it was going to be revealed at the end that the Perkin Reveler IS the Cook, dun dun dunnn), I don't think I have enough information to state Chaucer's purpose for telling his tale.

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