With careful attention to the language and style, discuss the effects of the writing in this passage. How far do you think the passage is characteristic of the tale as a whole?
In the opening 3 lines of the passage chauntecleer is described in detail. The poetical techniques implied by Chaucer create an image of the chicken, ‘winges gan to bete’; this indicates an image of action, subsequently it reiterates that he is still in fact a chicken. Furthermore the use of a semantic field prevails the medieval romance story. The words, ‘traisoun, espie, ravished and flaterie’ all identify the situation chauntecleer is in.
In the following section, the audience is addressed, thus you can see that the style of writing has changed somewhat. The narrator, the priest interrupts his own story in making reference and issuing warnings. You can see this very clearly; the section begins, ‘allas’, the negative discourse marker builds up tension showing something is about to happen. In addition this part ends with, ‘beth war’ meaning beware, again reinstating the warnings that are issued. There is also reference to religious connotation; ‘by my feith’ this emphasizes how he has gone off track somewhat.
In the next bit chauntecleer is described in detail, Chaucer pays specific attention to his body parts. ‘stood hie upon his toos, and heeld his eyes cloos’. These phrases create imagery; about chauntecleer and the situation he is in. Repetition of the word, ‘And’ at the beginning of each line allows the detail to flow at pace.
From this point to the end the style of writing changes again, Chaucer seems to address others, i.e. significant Gods and also the dead, subsequently he goes off track again from describing chauntecleer. This section begins with rhetorical repetition, ‘O’, this occurs at the beginning of each paragraph, ‘O Venus’ and ‘O Gaufred’, which are very famous Gods in their time. It commences with the priest being full of regret due to this terrible event.
He manages to compare it to the death of Richard I, which took place on a Friday, which also ties in significantly to the death of Christ on the cross, which in fact also took place on Good Friday. In this section it also mentions how chauntecleer is feathering more for delight than anything, ‘sin that thy servant was this chauntecleer’, indicating that it serves him right. For all of his wrongdoing he has to pay for it. This segment is all based on the idea of procreation.
Beneath this Chaucer uses a rhetorical question, ‘why woldestow suffer him on thy day to die?’ The grammatical function of this is ironic he is in fact going to die. In a sense it creates humor, normally many Christians resort to feathering when they are creating a family, not for personal pleasure.