The Cook's Tale in The Canterbury Tales: Prologue & Summary

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

If you are reading ''The Canterbury Tales,'' you might be confused by the Cook's Tale. This story is very different from the others and ends so abruptly that it needs an explanation. Take a look at this lesson to find out what is going on.

The Cook's Prologue

The Cook's Tale has baffled scholars for centuries. It starts off just like the rest of the stories in The Canterbury Tales. After the Reeve tells a story of revenge against the Miller, the Cook laughs good and long, and pats the Reeve on the back to congratulate him on his storytelling skills. The Cook (whose name is Roger) says he is ready to tell a story of his own. Just like the Reeve told a story of a trick played in his town, the Cook has a tricky story of his own.

The host pokes fun at the Cook by telling him that his shop is gross and his food makes people sick. The Cook is offended by this and says that at some point he will tell a story about the Host, but not yet; right now he has a different story to tell.

The Cook's Tale

The Cook begins telling a story about an apprentice named Perkins. His job was to sell food. He was a happy sort of fellow who took good care of appearance. He loved to sing and dance. He was ''As is the hyve ful of hony sweete.'' In other words, he was as full of sweetness as a beehive full of honey.

He loved partying so much that he would abandon his duties if there was a party nearby. Even though he had good qualities and was an all-around friendly guy, he stole from his master until eventually his master decided to get rid of him. His master believes that it is better to get rid of the bad apple than to let the bad apple spoil the rest. Off the apprentice went and he ended up crashing with a friend whose wife was hooker. The story ends here.

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