Hunting scenes are a common trope in Middle English texts, humorous hunting scenes less so. This paper examines how the humour of two texts – ‘The Nun’s Priest’s Tale’ and The Hunttyng of the Hare – hinges largely on a juxtaposition of noble and peasant hunting practices. In both texts, peasant hunters appear as an object of humour as a result of their non-gentle comportment but also due to the absurdity of their actions when compared to the idiom of the courtly hunt. The comical Otherness of the peasants is interpreted as the foil upon which the humour of the texts relies.
In the ‘Franklin’s Tale’, Chaucer describes Dorigen’s friends’ attempts to cheer her up when she is waiting for her husband to return home: ‘They leden hire by ryveres and by welles, / And eek in othere places delitables; / They dauncen and they pleyen at ches and tables’ (V: 898-900). This somewhat unusual depiction of a group of women friends sets the stage for readers to see the squire Aurelius, who has been watching Dorigen at parties and gatherings and admiring her for ‘Two yeer and moore’, as a victim of Dorigen’s rejection, and rejection by women more broadly. Although he is described as a well-loved man, he is an outsider to the group of women surrounding Dorigen. How can modern debates about the threat that women’s communities pose to masculinist politics help us to examine the role that such feelings of male victimization play in the Franklin’s Tale? I will argue that such questions help us to understand why Arveragus takes Aurelius’s side so quickly and completely in the pseudo-legal debate at the end of the tale.