Pilgrim’s Prize (Pt.10): The Clerk’s Tale (Chaucer Journal)

Well, I did not get my wish as The Clerk’s Tale is more concerned with womanly submission to man and class than anything directly concerned with organized religion.

The short of the tale is this: find a king, Walter, who is pressured to find a wife for his young province. The king is getting old and the people are worried that he will not pass an heir. So, one day, he announces that he will marry but it will be to someone of his own choosing. Luckily, one day, he finds a beautiful woman while horseback riding. He marries this woman but the people are unhappy since she is a commoner (I guess this is one of those medieval fantasies where the peasants dearly care about their Lordship’s genes and their alleged relation to power). Okay, but thankfully, part of the condition for marrying the king was that his wife, Griselda, obey his every word (more or less). So, they have a child but have it sent off to be raised by family. This repeats twice until the king orders Griselda herself to be sent off for some time. Eventually, she comes back and another wedding is held where she meets both of her young children. Happy ending. The end.

That was the story in a nutshell and it is a bit more sentimental than what we are accustomed to at this point in Chaucer’s book. It lacks the kind of vulgar humor and moralizing or the other tales and does not overtly concern itself with matters of religion and money. Instead, it is a proper family tale of honor, blood, and childrearing. No farting to be found in this tale!

So, the modern response? Find one “Bert Cassidy”. They have decided to reproduce Chaucer’s little story in the form of finger puppets. Cool.

Production wise, the seven-minute video is high-quality, filmed with an adequate 720p HD camera. The finger puppets and small stick puppets move with a cute grace; here, there is no pretending to greatness but rather the production embraces its low-budget, on-hands, aspect. The voice acting is clear and concise and there is little in the way of hesitancy, mistakes, or “uh” or “eh” or awkward pauses. The background art is original, colorful, and very storybook-esque. Though I would have been pleased with a wider variety of backdrops, since the one and only village backdrop gets boring, as things stand, the video is fine.

My only real complaint is that the medium doesn’t particularly fuse with any aspect of the tale. There is no connecting thread which ties how the medium of the tale is told to an aspect of the tale; whereas previous entries in the series found some part of the tale to connect to the medium, such as a stand-up comedy act to mimic the curtness of The Cook’s Tale or a series of tweets to reproduce the shady aspect of the business conducted in The Friar’s Tale, Cassidy just chooses a medium and runs. To be fair, I supposed that the possession of finger puppets could be likened to Griselda’s possession by her husband, but I feel that is likely going too far.

Whatever is the case, though, Cassidy manages a satisfying tale. A 7.5/10.

Link: http://www.pilgrimliterary.com/blog/2015/8/5/bert-cassidy-oxford-philosophy-student-and-tale-teller

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