Introduction to the canterbury tales
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For pages 100–124. RC-12.A Reflect on understanding to monitor comprehension (e.g., asking questions, summarizing and synthesizing, making connections, creating sensory images). Introduction to The Canterbury Tales. Selection 2-Before You Read. For pages 98–99.

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Introduction to The Canterbury Tales

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For pages 100–124

RC-12.A Reflect on understanding to monitor comprehension (e.g., asking questions, summarizing and synthesizing, making connections, creating sensory images).

Introduction to The Canterbury Tales

Selection 2-Before You Read

For pages 98–99

12.1.D Analyze and explain how the English language has developed and been influenced by other languages.

Meet Geoffrey Chaucer

Click the picture to learn about the author.

Selection 2-Before You Read

Characteristics to Remember

Literature and Reading Preview

Build Background

In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses a frame story—a plot structure that involves the telling of one or more stories within another story. The pilgrims’ contest and journey, narrated in the Prologue and elsewhere, is the frame story. The various tales told by the pilgrims on their journey are set within this frame.

Selection 2-Before You Read

Literature and Reading Preview

AP elements to note

Characterization involves all the methods a writer uses to reveal the values and personalities of his or her characters. A writer may make explicit statements about a character or may reveal a character indirectly through well-chosen words, thoughts, and actions. As you read, ask yourself how Chaucer reveals the characteristics of each pilgrim?

Selection 2-Before You Read


With direct characterization, the writer makes explicit statements about a character. With indirect characterization, the writer reveals a character through the character’s words, thoughts, actions, and appearance, as well as through what other characters say or think about the character.

Selection 2-After You Read

The Development of English

The English language began as Englisc, the speech of a scattered population of Anglo-Saxon peoples on an island off the European coast. Today, English is a global language spoken by perhaps a billion people around the world. This is largely due to the political power and cultural influence of the British Empire and the United States. However, it is also the result of the simplicity that English grammar has acquired during its long history. Before reaching its modern form, English passed through two major stages, Old English and Middle English.

Old English: 450–1150

The Anglo-Saxons spoke various Germanic dialects, a mixture of which are the basis of Old English, the form of the English language used from the mid-400s to the early 1100s. This was the language in Beowulf.

Literary History

Middle English 1150–1500

Between 450 and 1200, Latin, Danish, Old Norse, and Norman French fed the growing English language. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, England’s new aristocracy spoke French. Well-educated people needed to know three languages, however: French for dealing with the nobility or the courts; Latin for the church, business, and scholarship; and English (the vernacular) for communication with the majority of the common people.

Middle English 1150–1500

French had a strong influence on English. Many French words were introduced into the language that was becoming Middle English, and many Old English words were dropped. In fact, French increased the English vocabulary by a staggering 10,000 words, 7,500 of which are still in use.

Middle English 1150–1500

Whan that Aprille with his shoures sooteThe droghte of March hath perced to the roote,And bathed every veyne in swich licourOf which vertu engendred is the flour;Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breethInspired hath in every holt and heethThe tendre croppes, and the yonge sonneHath in the Ram his halve cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye,That slepen al the nyght with open ye(So priketh hem nature in hir corages);

Literary History

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;And specially from every shires endeOf Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,The hooly blisful martir for to seke,That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Literary History

S2-Bellringer Option

In addition to the developing language and literary skills that made literature much more accessible to the growing literate population, the Medieval society placed great faith in the “science” of physiognomy. Consider the following charts:

Journaling Notes should consider the following:

Consider the characteristics of physiognomy as we read the “Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales.

Consider the physical description of the pilgrims.

Consider the personality description of the pilgrims.

Consider the apparel of the pilgrims.

Consider the accoutrements of the pilgrims.

Draw a conclusion: Was Chaucer praising or condemning this character of Medieval society?

There will be AP style assessments during this unit of study!

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