The Squire Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson we will explore some of the Squire's quotes from 'The Canterbury Tales.' We'll also analyze what these quotes tell us about the Squire and his storytelling style.

The Squire

The Knight's son is also his Squire. Eventually the Squire hopes to become a knight like his father. The Host describes the Squire's riding and jousting abilities, which are desirable characteristics of a Knight-to-be, but he also describes his poetry, dancing, and singing abilities, which are not typical qualities sought after in a Knight. He is also described by the Host as a lover: 'He loved so hotly that till the dawn grew pale, He slept as little as a nightingale.' He is seen as an admirer of women who is very adept at wooing them.

However, the Squire is still a young man with many youthful follies. When analyzing some of his quotes we need to remember that he is young and inexperienced. He has also traveled extensively with his father and has heard many different styles of storytelling. In his tale, the Squire appears to be attempting to imitate the Oriental storytelling style of the East, but his inexperience simply causes it to sound long-winded and silly.

The Squire's Tale

'The Squire's Tale' isn't that complex, but he takes a long time telling it. As such, he never even gets to finish his tale because the Franklin interrupts him.

The tale is about a knight who gives several gifts to the king. One of these gifts is a ring that allows anyone wearing it to understand any languages, including the languages of animals. The king gives this ring to his daughter, who hears a falcon crying due to being jilted by her love. The princess then nurses this falcon back to health.

The Squire pauses his tale here to explain that he will now tell about the courtship of this princess. He also hints at scandals, such as incest, in the coming story. But the Franklin has had enough and interrupts, so we never find out how it ends.

Quotes

The Squire is not very sure of himself when he tells the story. When the Host mentions that he should tell one, he first shies away. Finally, he agrees, saying, 'Excuse me if I chance to speak amiss; I mean well, and my story goes like this.'

He seems eager to participate once he begins. The Squire spends a lot of time describing everything in detail. However, sometimes he spends just as much time explaining why he can't describe something accurately enough. One such time is when he attempts to describe the beauty of the princess, Canace. He fumbles and ultimately gives up, simply saying:

'Now to relate how fair she was to see

I've not the skill, for such my tongue is lame;

I dare not undertake so high an aim.'

He goes on to explain that it would require a great orator to describe her beauty.

Another time, he even turns to the Knight, his father, to describe the feast the king provides:

'…Old knight tell

Us, too, that in that land there is some meat

That one considers there a dainty treat,'

Even when he does describe something to us, it is so long-winded that we are prone to forget what he was even describing in the first place or why he was describing it.

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