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The Canterbury Tales

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  1. The Canterbury Tales

  2. The Canterbury Tales Who was the author? What is the book about? What are some significant historical issues? What are important stylistic elements?

  3. Geoffrey Chaucer • Son of a merchant in a middle class household • He became the page in a royal house, then a soldier, and eventually a diplomat and royal clerk • Married a lady-in-waiting to the queen • Began writing in his 20s • He was considered the greatest English poet during his life

  4. Geoffrey Chaucer • Son of vintner • Held civil service positions • Read English, Latin, Italian, and French • writing was only a part-time occupation • Died October 25, 1400; buried at Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey

  5. Geoffrey Chaucer

  6. Geoffrey Chaucer

  7. What is the book about? • 30 characters set out on journey • Pilgrimage from London to Canterbury Cathedral mid-April, 1387 • Engage in a storytelling contest • Heading to the shrine of Saint Thomas à Becket • Complete story not finished

  8. What is the book about? • An actual page from The Canterbury Tales • Many of the books from this time are Illuminated Manuscripts

  9. Map of the Pilgrims’ Route

  10. What is the book about? List of Characters CHARACTERS Narrator (“Chaucer”) Host Knight Squire Yeoman Prioress Second Nun Three Priests Monk Friar Merchant Clerk Man of Law Franklin Guildsmen Cook Shipman Physician Wife of Bath Parson Plowman Manciple Reeve Miller Summoner Pardoner

  11. Historic Elements • Thomas à Becket murder • Thomas became a saint • Twelve miracles

  12. Historic Elements • Represents people and occupations from the late Middle Ages in England • Prologue as guide • Changes from the medieval world to the ideology of the Renaissance

  13. The Aristocracy Historic Elements-The Aristocracy • The Knight – chivalrous and honorable • The Squire – a lady’s man • The Prioress – a delicate, elegant, sentimental nun • The Monk – a lover of hunting and fine clothing and jewelry • The Friar – a “wealthy beggar” who will do anything for money

  14. The Middle Class Historic Elements-The Middle Class • The Cook – a chef famous for his white sauce with an oozing sore on his leg • The Skipper – a world traveler who is more like a pirate • The Physician – a doctor who loved gold • The Wife of Bath – a woman who has had five husbands; she is well-dressed and loves to chat

  15. The Virtuous Lower Class Historic Elements-Virtuous Lower Class • The Parson – A poor but virtuous preacher; he is the model clergyman who is humble and devoted to his flock • The Plowman – His brother; a hard-working man

  16. The Degraded Lower Class Historic Elements-Degraded Lower Class • The Miller – a dealer in grain who cheated people • The Reeve – an old an irritable estate manager who grew rich at his job • The Summoner – an officer of the church who calls people to trial; he was a scary looking drunk who could be bought off • The Pardoner – a seller of religious articles who boasts of his cons

  17. Historic Elements Some of these changes include: • Social mobility • Physical mobility • Ideals of love • The role of women • The changes in attitude towards the church

  18. Historic Elements • Catholic Church suffering from corruption • John Wycliffe (1330-1384)… Separation of church and state – or at least of church and wealth

  19. Historic Elements • 100Years’ War: (1294-1444) Long conflict between England and France • Conflict intensified under Edward III, during Chaucer’s lifetime (Braveheart. Henry V. Joan of Arc.) • England struggles to be English. Chaucer sees first-hand the folly of this dispute.

  20. Stylistic Elements • Use of Narrative voice • a scribe (who describes himself as not too bright) writes them down • Scribe is actually Chaucer’s alter ego • Connection of tales (links)

  21. Stylistic Elements • Written in verse • iambic pentameter, much of it in heroic couplets. • Literary genres in this work: romance, beast fable, fabliaux, saint story, parable, and sermon. • Ironic tone

  22. Stylistic Elements • Characterization--intensely detailed lines, and each one is unique and realistic. (Direct and indirect) • The narrative voice of each character is subtly maintained • Represents psychological reality of character • Example of a frame story