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The Canterbury Tales

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  1. The Canterbury Tales

  2. Chaucer

  3. In the Prologue, Chaucer sketches a brief but vivid portrait of each pilgrim, creating a lively sense of medieval life. • The description may literally describe an article of clothing, but figuratively imply something about that character. • Definition: Satire - a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule. • Like sarcasm . . . He says one thing, but means another. • Our job is to read and comprehend the literal description of each pilgrim, and then, we must figuratively interpret what Chaucer is trying to imply about that pilgrim’s character. Snapshots of an Era. . .

  4. Two types of Satire: • 1. Juvenalian - After the Roman satirist Juvenal: Formal satire in which the speaker attacks vice and error with contempt and indignation Juvenalian satire in its realism and its harshness is in strong contrast to Horatian satire. {Serious – Critical} • 2. Horatian - After the Roman satirist Horace: Satire in which the voice is indulgent, tolerant, amused, and witty. The speaker holds up to gentle ridicule the absurdities and follies of human beings, aiming at producing in the reader not the anger of a Juvenal, but a wry smile. {Light – Funny} Snapshots of an Era. . .

  5. Satire (continued . . . ): • Also, so that we might better understand his satirical characterization, Chaucer creates SATIRIC NORMS. • A SATIRIC NORM is a character that represents the perfect ideal. • We can then see how BAD everyone else is by comparing them to this Satiric Norm. Snapshots of an Era. . .

  6. In the Prologue, Chaucer examines three segments of Medieval England: • 1. The Old Feudal order – these are all of the pilgrims associated with the feudal class system. • Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Plowman . . . • 2. The Merchant Class – this was the rising middle class of the time; towns and cities were emerging and therefore necessitated the need for skilled services: • Merchant, Man of Law, Guildsmen, Cook . . . • 3. The Ecclesiastical (Church) Class – these were all of the members of the church. Chaucer is most critical of this segment of his society. • Prioress, Monk, Friar, Pardoner . . . Snapshots of an Era. . .

  7. Chaucer

  8. I. Geoffrey Chaucer • Son of vinter • Held civil service positions • Well-travelled • Read English, Latin, Italian, and French • His work was popular • He was praised for making English suitable for poetry

  9. II. The Tales • Begun: 1386 • Planned: 120 tales • Completed: 22 and 2 fragments • Remaining: 80 manuscripts • Variety of genres: prologue is satire • Pilgrimage as a framing device for tales • Conventional springtime opening • Ernest and game – instruction and entertainment

  10. III. Pilgrimage • Very popular to go on pilgrimage • Pilgrims often went to Rome or Jerusalem • Canterbury Cathedral: shrine to Thomas a Becket • Reasons • Hope of heavenly reward • Penance • Pubs • People went in groups for safety

  11. Chaucer has the idea to bring together 29 “sondry folk” in a pilgrimage (“by aventure [chance]”) • Represent a wide range of 14th century English society • Makes comprehensive study of humans • Perfect way to present his irony Prologue

  12. Each pilgrim • tell two stories on the way to Canterbury • two stories on the way back • Plan proposed by Harry Bailey, host of the Tabard Inn • Teller of best tale is rewarded at the end • A dinner provided by his fellow pilgrims at the Tabard • Harry Bailey is judge Prologue

  13. Prologue sets the scene and introduces reader to the characters • Between many of the tales Chaucer expounds upon the personalities of the pilgrims. • Number of arguments that prepare for subsequent tales • Some pilgrims introduce a tale with a commentary on his/her own personal life Prologue

  14. Chaucer’s project was never finished • Only 22 and 2 fragments of the tales exist • Tales were probably composed at various times in Chaucer’s life Prologue

  15. Each character in The Canterbury Tales represents a different segment of society in Chaucer’s time. By noting the virtues and faults of each, Chaucer provides social commentary, writing that offers insight into society, its values, and its customs. While reading, draw conclusions from the characters about Chaucer’s views on English society. Literary Analysis

  16. Characterization • Direct characterization presents direct statements about a character, such as Chaucer’s statement that the Knight “followed chivalry, / Truth, honor. . . .” • Indirect characterization uses actions, thoughts, and dialogue to reveal a character’s personality. By saying “he was not gaily dressed,” for instance, Chaucer suggests that the Knight is not vain and perhaps takes the pilgrimage seriously enough to rush to join it straight from battle. Literary Analysis

  17. Group is on its way to the holy shrine of St. Thomas ă Becket • Archbishop of Canterbury • opposed Henry II over the balance between royal and religious power • was murdered in the cathedral • Considered a martyr and later made a saint • His blood was held to contain great curative qualities, restoring health to the sick Prologue

  18. V. Pilgrim descriptions • Show social rank • Show moral and spiritual condition • Include many of the following • Physiognomy • Clothes (array) • Work • Hobbies • Food • Humour

  19. Canterbury Tales Characters

  20. Frame tale: • Narrative technique whereby a main story is composed, at least in part, for the purpose of organizing a set of shorter stories, each of which is a story within a story. Literary Devices

  21. Pioneered by Chaucer • Poems constructed from a sequence of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter lines Heroic Couplet

  22. Stories of adventure about knights and chivalry • Courtly love: • Celebrates the love of a knight, usually for a married woman • Knights are so madly in love with these women that it consumes their thoughts. • Knights try to do many great deeds in hopes of winning their love. Romance