˜Henryson plays throughout with the notion of the "noble cock and parodies tales of chivalric romance.' (J. A. Tasioulis)
Animal fables have often been used as a means of telling a story to convey a moral, a lesson that may be adopted by those who hear or read it. Since the times of ancient Greece, when Aesop wrote his famous animal fables; to the Medieval times, where authors such as Chaucer and Robert Henryson, formed their own versions of Aesop's texts; to examples as recent as George Orwell's Animal Farm. The method of using animals to tell these stories may be popular because humans are too complex to represent individual values or quirks: an animal, then, could represent a human trait even better than a human could. Henryson himself reels off a few examples of animals with such traits in the first stanza of The Cock and the Fox: the "busteous (rough, rude) bear, the "wylde lion, the "fenyeit (deceitful) and "cautelous (cunning) fox. The cock - in the tale, named Chauntecleer “ is labelled "gentil (noble); however, there is a viewpoint (as cited in the quote above) that Henryson is forming the comedic character of Chauntecleer to parody the ˜noble' knights featured in lyrics of "chivalric romance popular at the time. This essay will explore Henryson's portrayal of the cock, and the extent to which the above quote is true.
Henryson begins building the image of the noble Chauntecleer immediately “ in line 14, the "gentil term is introduced, and he is also described as "courageous in line 20. When Lowrence, the "craftie fox, makes an appearance, he goes to great lengths to describe Chauntecleer's dignified appearance:
" ¦ I beheld your fedderis [feathers] fair and gent,
Your beck, your breast, your hekill [hackle], and your kame [comb]
This serves to flatter Chauntecleer into letting his guard down with Lowrence, and his subsequent inflated self-image clearly reiterates