Background Edit

The Canon’s Yeoman practices Alchemy.[1] During the Middle Ages, it was believed that any substance can be formed using the right combination of earth, wind, water and fire. Many alchemists were searching for an elixir to prolong life. While many alchemists were actually working to develop theses things, others used it to defraud the people.[2] In the tale, the Yeoman states that he once had good clothes and a comfortable job, but he is now in debt due to failed attempts at alchemy.[3]

Description of the Canon's Yeoman Edit

Some of the lines used in the prologue of The Canon's Yeoman's tale include:[4]

“I thought he was an African at first, but his face is just plain grimy.”

“But the boy with the dirty face took no notice at all.”

“A little misunderstanding, said the sooty servant with a foolish grin and a wave of his hand.”

His face is covered in dirt and soot when he begins riding with the party, due to the fact that he works with the fires for the Canon. He is very critical of alchemy and the Canon, and warns everyone not to have anything to do with it.

Chaucer's Opinion of the Canon's Yeoman Edit

Chaucer includes details of his clothing, how unclean he looks, and the state of his horse. It is suggested that the Yeoman is much younger than the Canon. He also tells us that the Canon and the Yeoman have been swindling people for at least seven years. When the pilgrims first saw them, they believed that the Canon and Yeoman were thieves running from a town. There isn’t much detail about their lives before alchemy, but it does talk about him being richer than he is now. It is hard to know what Chaucer thinks of alchemy. In the tale, the Canon Yeoman never claims alchemy is false, but he also states that alchemy “is impossible to realize in practice, and sinful to try.” The Canon is also portrayed as a man “whose attempts to pursue knowledge are a thinly veiled disguise for the pursuit of material wealth.” The Yeoman also refers to the science as being a “slidynge”(slippery) science, and believes that anyone who pursues it will become poor, as he did.[5]

References (In MLA Format) Edit

"Alchemy in the Middle Ages." About. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

"Analysis and Summary of The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale (Canterbury Tales)." Article Myriad. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

Ecker, Ronald , and Eugene  Crook. "The Canon Yeoman's Tale." The Canon Yeoman's Tale. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

MacDonall, Agnus. Canon's Yeoman. N.d. Florida Center for Instructional Technology, Tampa, Florida. ClipArt ETC. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.

McCaughrean, Geraldine, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury tales. New York: Puffin Books, 1996. Print.

NeCastro, Gerard. "eChaucer." The Canon's Yeoman's Tale. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Canon and Canon's Yeoman in The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

"The Canon's Yeoman's Tale, Modern English - Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400)." The Canon's Yeoman's Tale, Modern English - Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400). N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

"The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Summary and Analysis The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale." The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014. <>.

"The Canterbury Tales Summary and Analysis." The Canterbury Tales Study Guide : Summary and Analysis of The Canon's Yeoman's Tale. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.

References Edit


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