Literature Study GuidesThe Canterbury TalesThe Cooks Prologue And Tale Summary

The Canterbury Tales | Study Guide

Geoffrey Chaucer

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The Cook's Prologue and Tale

Course Hero's video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of The Cook's Prologue and Tale from Geoffrey Chaucer's collection of stories The Canterbury Tales.

The Canterbury Tales | The Cook's Prologue and Tale | Summary



The Cook finds the Reeve's tale funny and decides he will tell a tale of his own. Harry Bailey teases him a bit but agrees.

The Cook begins his tale, which he claims is a true story, about a man named Peter. Peter was "as full of love, as full of sin," and so fond of partying that he often left work early. He liked to gamble and visit the brothels, sometimes even taking money from the shop where he was an apprentice to indulge himself. Eventually this behavior causes the shop master to dismiss him. Now unemployed, Peter moves in with a friend, who happens to also enjoy "revelling, dice and sport," and whose wife earns money as a prostitute.


Scholars also classify this tale as a fabliau, although it is less well developed than the two previous tales in that genre and tends to be moralizing rather than carefree. It is also unfinished, and scholars do not have a firm explanation why.

This tale follows closely on the heels of the previous one, as something in the Reeve's tale has inspired the Cook to share a story of his own. He notes that he wants to tell a "little joke" rather than elaborate on the "jest of malice" played upon the miller.

It is interesting to note the progression of women's roles thus far in the stories. The Knight's tale involved a noble, chaste lady; the next two stories involved women easily seduced; this story involves (however briefly) a prostitute.

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