Alchemy Experiments In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

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Eric Prioleau Mrs. Toppin English 4 Honors 10-6-14 In the “Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale” of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Yeoman talks to the host of the Tabard Inn about his master. The Yeoman states that the Canon practices alchemy and wants to acquire the Philosopher’s to convert common minerals to valuable ones (Chaucer 2). Instead of working or studying religious lessons, he conducts alchemy experiments. The Canon realizes that he conducted flawed experiments due to the lack of sufficient results. In order to fund his research, the Canon looks for gullible people to donate money to him. Using their beliefs that alchemy works, he takes the donated money and proceeds with more research. Throughout their conversation, the Yeoman denounces the Canon as one practicing greed, pride, and sloth. In the beginning of the Canon’s experiments, he actually believed that alchemy worked. Through his experimentations, he caused several chemical reactions with different substances. However, after multiple failed tests he decided that he would have to use alchemy as a hoax to fool other people for their money (Rossignol 40). He traveled the land, persuading a mob of people to donate…show more content…
The ideas associated with alchemy, such as riches, can never become a reality (Rossignol 40). During his pursuit of rich via alchemy, he develops several vices. The detrimental vices that contributed to his misfortunes include greed, pride, and sloth. Due to his greed, the Canon has to endure poverty. His pride has cost him the ability to stay in one place. His slothfulness has lost him the luxury of living a normal life. “The secrets of alchemy are the secrets of God, who does not wish for man to achieve the Philosopher’s Stone. And any man who seeks the contrary of God’s will shall certainly not thrive (Rossignol 39).” The Yeoman said this statement to show that if someone pursues alchemy for self-centered reasons, they will fail
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