The Yeoman Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

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.

''The Canterbury Tales'' can be a challenging read. One of the reasons is that there are so many different characters. Add to that the really weird and old English, and you may feel lost. Don't worry. In this lesson, we will take a close look at the Yeoman and take apart some of his most relevant quotes. Read on to learn more.


Have you ever met someone while traveling that you knew you would never see again and then felt like you could tell them anything? If you have found it easier to tell a stranger your life story, you will be able to understand where the Yeoman is coming from in The Canterbury Tales.

The Yeoman and the Canon Pop in

While the travelers are moving along, a Canon (priest) and his yeoman (servant) gallop up to the group and begin chatting. The host encourages them to tell a story, and the Yeoman decides to speak. He tells the group about the Canon and describes how they made money. He says '' To muchel folk we doon illusioun, And borwe gold, be it a pound or two,'' and then convinces the lender that they can turn one pound of gold into two. This quote from the Yeoman makes it clear that he intends to be honest about who he and the canon really are.

The Yeoman Doesn't Care What the Canon Wants

When the Canon realizes that his Yeoman is about to tell all about their mischief, he tries to convince him to shut up. The Host tells the Yeoman not to worry about the Canon being angry and to tell his story. The Yeoman responds, saying, ''In feith,' quod he, 'namoore I do but lyte.'' In other words, he does not care even a little about the Canon's objection to his story. With that, the Canon runs off and is not heard from again.

The Yeoman Comes Clean

The Yeoman tells a story about a crooked canon and also details his own experience. He explains that he and the Canon worked as alchemists - people who tried to turn everyday objects into valuable metal like silver or gold. The Yeoman explains that ''For so helpe me God, therby shal he nat wynne, But empte his purs, and make his wittes thynne.'' In other words, he and the Canon never achieved much, they simply emptied other people's purses and stole from them.

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