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The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400) England’s most vociferous medieval champion!. Chaucer wrote in vernacular English rather than in Latin or French. Middle English is a result of mixing the OE of the Anglo-Saxons with the Old French of the Normans.
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The Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400) England’s most vociferous medieval champion!
Chaucer wrote in vernacular English rather than in Latin or French. Middle English is a result of mixing the OE of the Anglo-Saxons with the Old French of the Normans. Chaucer’s Original Manuscript
April 1386 • Destination: Canterbury Cathedral, Canterbury, England. • Canterbury Cathedral has been a shrine and to the martyred Thomas a Becket who was murdered by knights sent by King Henry II on December 29, 1170. • Pilgrims: 29 and Chaucer, the narrator • Chaucer’s pilgrims are well-rounded characters with personalities and pasts. • As one critic said, “Not a whisper, not a wart, is omitted.” • The pilgrim’s occupations reflect different aspects of 14th century society. • Each pilgrim is invited to tell a tale of possible interest to the others, a tale on the way, and a tale on the way back. • Original Plan: 120 Tales *24 Tales • Chaucer’s pilgrims were a mixed congregation; their occupations reflect different aspects of 14th century society.
Pilgrims gather at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, across the Thames from London 50-70 miles from Canterbury Cathedral The Tabard Inn (1880), Bath Road, Bedford Park, London
Thomas a Becket is venerated as a saint and martyr by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. He engaged in conflict with King Henry II over the rights and privileges of the Church and was assassinated by followers of the king in Canterbury Cathedral.
Chaucer wrote in Rhymed Couplets of 5-beat (stressed) iambic lines—10 syllables per line Middle English, The Prologue Whan that April with his showres soote The droughte of March hath perced to the roote
Chaucer’s Tone • To understand, we must read between the lines. Chaucer is not direct. • The narrator’s tone or attitude toward his characters is detached, ironic, and often understates his criticisms or says the opposite of what he really thinks. • For example, in the following lines Chaucer reveals his attitude toward a Friar who gives God’s forgiveness (absolution) freely, as long as he receives a donation.
Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift With pleasant absolution, for a gift. Here, Chaucer implies the Friar was materialistic, not so holy. And significantly, gaining money cheapens divine forgiveness.
FRAME TALE • A frame tale is a story that provides a vehicle, or a frame, for telling other stories. • While The Prologue provides the outer frame, the individual pilgrims’ tales create the inner “picture.”
Types of Tales • Exemplum: a brief story used to illustrate a moral point; sermons are sometimes used; thus an exemplum can be a bit “preachy,” i.e., “The Pardoner’s Tale.” • Beast Fable: characters are animals, i.e., “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.”
Types of Tales • Fabliaux: This short story in verse tells of comic incidents of ordinary life, usually with earthly or bawdy realism, i.e., “The Miller’s Tale.” • Courtly Romance: 1st- a story of the proper way the aristocracy behave 2nd-the proper way that a man and a woman interact before marriage, i.e., “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.”
This manuscript contains the writing of the first master of English literature, and is considered to be the most complete and reliable text edition of the Canterbury Tales. The Ellesmere Canterbury Tales was probably produced soon after 1400. It contains 240 parchment leaves, 232 of which are the text Of the Tales. The remaining leaves were originally blank, lined pages that now contain miscellaneous verses, notes and scribbles by various persons over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries. The original text was written by one scribe in an English style cursive script. The Ellesmere Canterbury Tales