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The Canterbury Tales . English 12 Mrs. Smith . The Author . Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) He was a son of a merchant, a page in a royal house, soldier, diplomat, and royal clerk.

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the canterbury tales

The Canterbury Tales

English 12

Mrs. Smith

the author
The Author
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)
    • He was a son of a merchant, a page in a royal house, soldier, diplomat, and royal clerk.
    • Because of these experiences he saw a lot of the medieval world. This is probably where he gathered the groundwork for The Canterbury Tales
the author1
The Author
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
    • We don’t know that much about his life. What we do know comes from where his name is documented in records.
    • He came from a family that believed it wasn’t WHAT you knew but WHO you know. From his early life he had a lot of royal and important connections
    • As a page he would have learned a lot about good manners and this mannerly approach is apparent in his writing
the author2
The Author
  • Geoffrey Chaucer
    • RANDOM FACTS
      • We have nothing in his original handwriting
      • When he started The Canterbury Tales he meant to write 100, but he only finished 24
    • Died in 1400 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He was the first that was buried in what is now known as the poets corner. Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, and Tennyson are also buried there. THE GANGS ALL HERE!
the tales
The Tales

In all literature there is NOTHING that comes close to the Prologue. It is “the concise portrait of an entire nation, high and low, old and young, male and female, lay and clerical, learned and ignorant, rogue and righteous, land and seas, town and country, but without extremes” – The Canterbury Tales (penguin)

Almost every tale ends with a piece of wisdom or moral to the story.

the tales1
The Tales

No one knows WHY he started writing them. It may have come from his own participation in a pilgrimage to Canterbury.

A pilgrimage is a long journey to a shrine or holy site, taken by people who wish to express their devotion.

Just as the people on the pilgrimage come from all walks of life, the tales encompass all of medieval literature– romance, comedy, rhyme, prose, etc.

the tales2
The Tales
  • BACKGROUND
    • Where in the world is Canterbury and why are they going there?
      • The pilgrims are on their way to the shrine of Thomas a Becket at the cathedral in Canterbury. Becket was appointed the Archbishops of Canterbury by Henry II
      • In the 1160s, a series of conflicts ensued between Becket and Henry II for the control of the church.
      • Henry questioned if anyone could get rid of Becket, and some of his knights thought that was an offer for them to murder him.
      • He was made a saint in 1173 and the tomb became a popular destination for pilgrims.
      • Henry the VIII destroyed the shrine later on
the tales3
The Tales
  • THE BACKGROUND
    • The Canterbury Tales begins with a Prologue, in which the Narrator, presumably Chaucer himself, meets 29 other pilgrims at the Tabard Inn near London. As they get ready for their journey, the host of the Inn, Harry Bailey, gives them a challenge. To make their trip more fun, he suggests each pilgrim tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. The person who tells the best tale wins a feast given by the rest of the pilgrims. They accept the challenge and Bailey goes with them to serve as a judge.
the tales4
The Tales
  • He perfected a new poetic form
    • The meters and sound effects of Old English poetry no longer suited the changing English Language.
    • He adapted French poetic forms to the English of his day. He wrote most of The Tales in his own form, the heroic couplet, a pair of rhyming lines with five stressed syllables each (iambic)