Chaucer September exam 2011-12



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Chaucer September exam 2011-12


2 hours.


Students should answer questions 1-3.
Do not substantially repeat material from assessed essays.



  1. Write a critical commentary on ONE of the following passages, drawing attention to any points of interest in the passage itself and its relationship to the work from which it is taken. (25 marks)



  1. With that y gan aboute wende,

For oon that stood ryght at my bak,

Me thoughte, goodly to me spak,

And seyde, ‘Frend, what is thy name?

Artow come hider to han fame?’

‘Nay, for sothe, frend,’ quod y;

‘I cam noght hyder, graunt mercy,

For no such cause, by my hed!

Sufficeth me, as I were ded,

That no wight have my name in honde.

I wot myself best how y stonde;

For what I drye, or what I thynke,

I wil myselven al hyt drynke,

Certeyn, for the more part,

As fer forth as I kan myn art.’

‘But what doost thou here than?’ quod he.

Quod y, ‘That wyl y tellen the,

The cause why y stonde here:

Somme newe tydynges for to lere,

Somme newe thinges, y not what ,

Tydynges, other this or that,

Of love or suche thynges glade.’
From The House of Fame, Book 3
drye: experience, suffer


  1. ‘And also think wel that this is no gaude;

For me were levere thow and I and he

Were hanged, than I sholde ben his baude,

As heigh as men myghte on us alle ysee!

I am thyn em; the shame were to me,

As wel as the, if that I sholde assente

Thorugh myn abet that he thyn honour shente.


Now understond, for I yow nought requere

To bynde yow to hym thorugh no byheste,

But only that ye make hym bettre chiere

Than ye han doon er this, and moore feste,

So that his lif be saved atte leeste;

This al and som, and pleynly, oure entente.

God help me so, I nevere other mente!
Lo, this requeste is naught but skylle, ywys,

Ne doute of resoun, pardee, is ther noon.

I sette the worste, that ye dreden this:

Men wolde wondren sen hym come or goon.

Ther-ayeins answere I thus anoon,

That every wight, but he be fool of kynde,

Wol deme it love of frendshipe in his mynde.’
From Troilus and Criseyde, Book 2.
gaude: trick

baude: pimp

abet: help, abetting

shente: ruined, injured

feste: welcoming attention

skylle: reasonable

doute of resoun: reasonable fear

fool of kynde: congenital fool


  1. Write a critical commentary on ONE of the following passages, drawing attention to any points of interest in the passage itself and its relationship to the work from which it is taken. (25 marks)



  1. This litel child, his litel book lernynge,

As he sat in the scole at his prymer,

He Alma redemptoris herde synge,

As children lerned hire antiphoner;

And as he dorste, he drough hym ner and ner,

And herkned ay the wordes and the noote,

Til he the firste vers koude al by rote.


Noght wiste he what this Latyn was to seye,

For he so yong and tendre was of age.

But on a day his felawe gan he preye

T’expounden hym this song in his langage,

Or telle hym why this song was in usage;

This preyde he hym to construe and declare

Ful often tyme upon his knowes bare.
His felawe, which that elder was than he,

Answerde hym thus: ‘This song, I have herd seye,

Was maked of our blisful Lady free,

Hire to salue, and eek hire for to preye

To been oure help and socour whan we deye.

I kan namoore expounde in this mateere.

I lerne song; I kan but smal grammeere.’
‘And is this song maked in reverence

Of Cristes mooder?’ seyde this innocent.

‘Now, certes, I wol do my diligence

To konne it al er Cristemasse be went.

Though that I for my prymer shal be shent

And shal be beten thries in an houre,

I wol it konne Oure Lady for to honoure!’
From The Prioress’s Tale, The Canterbury Tales
prymer: elementary school book

Alma redemptoris: ‘Gracious mother of the Redeemer’

Antiphoner: book of antiphonal hymns

seye: mean

knowes: knees

salue: greet

konne: learn

for my prymer: for not learning my lessons

shent: scolded



  1. With this Canoun I dwelt have seven yeer,

And of his science am I never the neer.

Al that I hadde I have lost therby,

And, God woot, so hath many mo than I.

Ther I was wont to be right fresh and gay

Of clothyng and of oother good array,

Now may I were an hose upon myn heed;

And wher my colour was bothe fressh and reed,

Now is it wan and of a leden hewe –

Whoso it useth, soore shal he rewe! –

And of my swynk yet blered is myn ye.

Lo, which avantage is to multiplie!

That slidynge science hath me maad so bare

That I have no good, wher that evere I fare;

And yet I am endetted so therby

Of gold that I have borwed, trewely,

That whil I lyve I shal it quite nevere.

Lat every man be war by me for evere!

What maner man that casteth hym therto,

If he continue, I holde his thrift ydo.

For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne,



But empte his purs and make his wittes thynne.
From The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, The Canterbury Tales
leden: lead-coloured

blered is myn ye: my eye is bleary; I have been deluded

bare: impoverished

casteth hym: applies himself

thrift ydo: prosperity done for

  1. Write an essay in answer to ONE of the following questions. (50 marks)




  1. How does Chaucer represent the act of undertaking a pilgrimage in The Canterbury Tales?




  1. Explore the differences in the representation of money and financial exchange between the genres of romance and fabliau. You may confine your answer to ONE Tale from each genre if you wish.




  1. Discuss the representation of women in any TWO or THREE of Chaucer’s religious Tales.




  1. Examine marriage as a site of social, occupational and racial conflict in any THREE of Chaucer’s Tales.




  1. In what directions does Chaucer develop the animal fable in the Nun’s Priest’s and Manciple’s Tales?




  1. How seriously ought we to take the Parson’s Tale and the Retraction which follows as Chaucer’s final verdict on The Canterbury Tales?




  1. Discuss TWO or THREE occasions when a close knowledge of Chaucer’s textual sources markedly influences or changes our reception of individual Tales or Prologues.




  1. Compare the respresentation of the marvellous in any THREE of the following: The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Franklin’s Tale, The Squire’s Tale, The Tale of Sir Thopas, The Second Nun’s Tale.


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