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Reading like a Clerk in the Clerk's Tale

Laura Ashe
The Modern Language Review
Vol. 101, No. 4 (Oct., 2006), pp. 935-944
DOI: 10.2307/20467019
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20467019
Page Count: 10
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Reading like a Clerk in the Clerk's Tale
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Abstract

Chaucer's Clerk's Tale has always provided difficulties of interpretation to readers. The tale itself operates a problematic division between its literal and allegorical meanings, and the framing device of the "Canterbury Tales" multiplies the possibilities of interpretation through the character of the Clerk. This paper argues that the focus upon interpretation is the tale's purpose, by which it illustrates the power of a proper moral reading. It suggests that Griselda forcibly interprets Walter's actions as virtuous, despite our discomfort, and that this interpretation has the ultimate effect of making him virtuous.

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