Abstract

The humor of the chase scene in the Nun's Priest's Tale has been widely noted without necessarily being deeply explored. Far more interest has been placed, for example, on the allusion to the Peasants' Revolt and the meaning of the passage within the tale's wider parody of medieval rhetoric. This article analyzes the humor of the barnyard chase, highlighting that it includes layers of burlesque but also irony and parody, depending on the reader's frame of reference. Using various texts pertaining to hunting in the late medieval period as instruments of inquiry, the article argues that the chase scene should be read against the backdrop of the noble hunt. Chaucer's subtle treatment of terminology, technology, wordplay, sound, and image implies that the passage should be read as an ironic imitation of courtly hunting. This article thus suggests an alternative reading of a central passage in the Nun's Priest's Tale.

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