Abstract

The theme of wrath in the Summoner's Tale is revisited in light of the medieval moral tradition disseminated through pastoral commonplaces. Although it was counted among the Deadly Sins, anger was considered virtuous when used for correcting sin. Friar John's discourse on anger and his conversations with other characters in the tale revolve around the relationship of social status to the legitimacy of anger, or zeal for correction. Previous studies have shown that the vicious anger of Friar John undermines the authority of mendicants. Here it is argued that the right ordering of anger by aristocratic characters at the manor hall legitimizes their authority. They practice the virtues opposed to wrath and employ pastoral remedies against John's ire. Finally, Jankyn punishes the friar with his witty and courtly solution to dividing Thomas's fart. Aristocratic authority over other social estates is dramatized at the expense of undermining mendicant and clerical pretenses.

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