Juxtaposition as a principle of order in the Canterbury tales : the links between Fragments V, VI, and VIII

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1974

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Regarding the problem of the order of the tales it has been argued that Fragment VI belongs between Fragments V and VIII, and an examination of internal evidence demonstrates that this is very probably the best position for it. Chaucer appears to have juxtaposed certain tales in order to call attention to their contrasting views without making explicit comments upon them. In the case of Fragment VI, the Pardoner and the Second Nun form a stark contrast and appear to be strongly linked through the inversion of the red and white imagery and through the inversion of the physical and spiritual sterility of the Pardoner as opposed to the spiritual fecundity of the chaste Cecilia. The Franklin and the Physician appear to be slighting one another, the Franklin scorning astrology, and the Physician requiting him by indirectly disparaging Dorigen. The striking relationships between the Franklin and the Physician, the Pardoner and the Second Nun suggest a strong case for the V-VI-VIII order.

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