1. The sixteen lines appended to the Tale of the Nun's Priest seem, as Tyrwhitt observes, to commence the prologue to the succeeding Tale -- but the difficulty is to determine which that Tale should be. In earlier editions, the lines formed the opening of the prologue to the Manciple's Tale; but most of the manuscripts acknowledge themselves defective in this part, and give the Nun's Tale after that of the Nun's Priest. In the Harleian manuscript, followed by Mr Wright, the second Nun's Tale, and the Canon's Yeoman's Tale, are placed after the Franklin's tale; and the sixteen lines above are not found -- the Manciple's prologue coming immediately after the "Amen" of the Nun's Priest. In two manuscripts, the last line of the sixteen runs thus: "Said unto the Nun as ye shall hear;" and six lines more evidently forged, are given to introduce the Nun's Tale. All this confusion and doubt only strengthen the certainty, and deepen the regret, that "The Canterbury Tales" were left at Chaucer's, death not merely very imperfect as a whole, but destitute of many finishing touches that would have made them complete so far as the conception had actually been carried into performance.
One of the things that makes Chaunticleer the morally-representative chicken a problem is the fact that he can speak and argue with his wife on the one hand, yet cry “cok! Cok!” when he sees a grain on the floor. He is both chicken and human, rather like Chaucer writes as both himself and as Nun’s Priest. The tale, however, is structured by people knowing when to speak and not knowing when to speak: Pertelote speaks out to wake Chaunticleer from his dream, Chaunticleer foolishly opens his mouth to sing for the fox when he is captured, and it is Chaunticleer’s final visitation of the trap that he himself fell into on the fox which causes him in turn to open his mouth – and let Chaunticleer go. Know when you should “jangle” (chatter) and know when to hold your peace.