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The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer 1343-1400. Created by Ms. Miller. Geoffrey Chaucer. Father of English poetry Spoke the Anglo-Norman composite called Middle English (the ancestor of Modern English). One of the first to write in English

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The Canterbury Tales

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  1. The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer 1343-1400 Created by Ms. Miller

  2. Geoffrey Chaucer • Father of English poetry • Spoke the Anglo-Norman composite called Middle English (the ancestor of Modern English). • One of the first to write in English (French was the spoken language of the time) • Considered to be the greatest English writer before Shakespeare. • Most famous book: The Canterbury Tales

  3. What is so great about The Canterbury Tales? • In part, its greatness lies in Chaucer’s language. • It also comes from the sheer strength of Chaucer’s spirit and personality. “In a dark, troubled age, as it seems to us, he was a comfortable optimist, serene, full of faith.” – John Gardner

  4. The time period • At least once in their lifetime, people made a pilgrimage (religious journey) to the shrine of St. Thomas á Becket in the city of Canterbury • Becket had been the archbishop of Canterbury • He was murdered in his own cathedral • Chaucer uses this idea of a pilgrimage to help form his frame story.

  5. The Canterbury Tales • Chaucer’s most famous book • He himself is a character in the book as a short, plump, slightly foolish pilgrim who commands no great respect • This book was still unfinished when he died • Type: Fiction • Format: Collection of stories within a frame story

  6. The End of the Old Alliterative Anglo-Saxon World • Chaucer used several metrical forms and some prose in The Canterbury Tales, but the dominant meter is based on ten syllables, with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. • Iambic pentameter • At a stroke we have abandoned the old, alliterative world of Anglo-Saxons and entered the modern world of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Robert Frost! • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p226OX39OLs

  7. Quick Quiz • What is Iambic Pentameter? • Provide an example.

  8. Snapshot of an age • The Canterbury Tales gives us a collection of good stories and a snapshot, a picture of life in the Middle Ages frozen in time. • Chaucer places his characters on a pilgrimage, a religious journey made to a shrine of holy place.

  9. Setting up the frame • The tales begin with a general Prologue, the first lines of which establish that this pilgrimage takes place in the spring, the time of a new life and awakening. • Narrator: Poet-pilgrim, whom many consider to be Chaucer himself • Gather at Tabard Inn, there he meets twenty-nine other pilgrims also bound for Canterbury.

  10. Setting up the frame • It is the host of the Tabard who suggests to the pilgrims, as they sit around the fire after dinner, that they exchange tales to pass the time along the way to Canterbury. • Frame Story- A story within a story. Chaucer uses the other story of the pilgrimage to unite his travelers; individual tales, but the tales themselves also have thematic unity.

  11. Vocabulary Developmentpage 140 • Agility • Eminent • Accrue • Arbitrate • Benign • Guile • Obstinate • Frugal • Duress

  12. Literary Focus: Characterization • To create the portraits of his pilgrims, Chaucer uses the same methods of Characterization that writers still use today. He reveals his characters by telling us • How the character looks and dresses • How the character speaks and acts • What the character speaks and acts • What the character thinks and feels • How others respond to the character • He also tells us directly what the character’s nature is –virtuous, clever, and so on

  13. Reading Skills • With twenty-nine pilgrims to introduce in the Prologue, Chaucer could not develop any one character at great length. Instead, he had to provide a few well-chosen details that would make each character stand out vividly. • As you read the descriptions of each pilgrim in the Prologue, jot down striking details of dress, appearance, and behavior that give you an immediate impression of that character is really like.

  14. Our Cast of Characters • Narrator • At the inn • Introduces all the people taking part in pilgrimage

  15. Our Cast of Characters • Knight Kind, chivalrous, just back from war, good warrior • Squire Knight’s son, about 20, very artistic, very devoted to his father.

  16. Our Cast of Characters Yeoman Nun • Servant, proper Forrester, farmer • Wears weapons, simply dressed • Yeoman: attendant, servant, or lesser official in royal or noble household. • Flirts, speaks poor French (putting on Airs), not really classy (pretends to be) • Clean eater, fat, tender hearted • 3 priests and another Nun are with her • Prioress: A nun in charge of a priory or ranking next below the abbess of an abbey

  17. Our Cast of Characters Monk Friar • Hunter, fat, likes to eat • Indulgent, dainty horses • Cares about money • Disregards his job and rules • Hubert • Drinker, faker, liar, flirt, beggar • Oxymoron (Devout Friar) • Coward (lily-livered) • Limiter: Licensed to beg within certain bounds, limited to a certain district

  18. Our Cast of Characters Merchant Oxford Cleric • Boring, in debt, poorly dressed • Poor, student, moral, philosopher, thin • Cleric: clergyman or other person in religious orders.

  19. Our Cast of Characters Sergeant at the Law Franklin • Doesn’t think much of him • Seems busier than he is • Nosey • Self-indulgent, loves food and wine • Old, hospitable • Sheriff and in Parliament • Franklin: person of non-noble birth holding extensive property

  20. Our Cast of Characters The Guildsmen The Cook • Self-indulgent, loves food and wine • Old, hospitable • Sheriff and in Parliament • Franklin: person of non-noble birth holding extensive property • Lower class • Trying to act higher class • Is good at his job • With the sore on his knee, he isn’t very sanitary which makes his food taste bad

  21. Our Cast of Characters Skipper Doctor • Sailor • Likes to drink • Ruthless, evil to prisoners • Medicine based on Zodiac signs • Greedy, meds for unneeded things • Apothecary: one that prepares and sells drugs and other medicines (a pharmacist)

  22. Our Cast of Characters The Wife of Bath Parson • Deaf, well-dressed, gap teeth, voluptuous, busy-body • Holy, poor, good priest, not judgmental, devoted, kind

  23. Our Cast of Characters Plowman The Miller • Christian, hard worker, kind • Will not take money unless he has to • Muscular, strong, wart on nose, bar-fly • Steals grain, tells dirty stories, plays bag pipes

  24. Our Cast of Characters Manciple The Reeve • Trading and money managing • Illiterate but intelligent • Easily makes fools out of other manciples • Works for college • Old, bad-tempered, thin • Does job well, steals from employer • Dishonest

  25. Our Cast of Characters The Summoner The Pardoner • Summons people to court • Face covered in nasty sores, stinks because he eats onions and garlic, drunk • One job is to track down adulterers • Sells pardons for church • Rat-tails, hair shows • Trying to be better than he is • Voice like a goat, bug eyes, feminine

  26. Our Cast of Characters The Host • Happy, serves as the guide • Proposes that they all tell 4 stories • 2 on the way to shrine • 2 on the way back • Winner gets feast • Wants to tell stories to offer entertainment on trip

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