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The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims (1810) by William Blake. Engraving.

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Presentation on theme: "The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims (1810) by William Blake. Engraving."— Presentation transcript:


2 The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrims (1810) by William Blake. Engraving.

3 If you went on a tour today, what types of people would you meet? Do you think you might come across a “character” or two? Chaucer’s characters are the kinds of people he would have known in real life and observed riding toward Canterbury on the old pilgrimage road. Take a Tour The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

4 Chaucer used the East Midland dialect of Middle English. This dialect was the most common colloquial language at the time and became the basis for modern English. The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

5 English is a Melting Pot. Celtic Latin German French

6 Beowulf is Old English.Old English


8 Middle English  The most important text of Middle English is Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

9 Another Way of Looking at the History of English Old English 400-1066Beowulf (from Beowulf!) “Gaæþ a wyrd swa hio scel” (OE) = “Fate goes ever as it must” (MnE) Middle English 1066-1485Chaucer (from CT) “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote... ” (ME) = “When that April with its sweet showers...” (MnE) Early Modern English 1485-1800Shakespeare (from KL) “Sir, I loue you more than words can weild ye matter” (EMnE) = “Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter” (MnE) Modern English 1800- present Austen (from P&P) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. OE=Old English ME=Middle English EMnE=Early Modern English MnE=Modern English

10 The fact that Chaucer wrote in English (Middle English), rather than French or Latin like many of his fellow writers, meant that ordinary folk could enjoy The Canterbury Tales and their vivid characters.

11 The late fourteenth century world was still very much one of the spoken word. Books were copied out by hand and were a rare luxury till the advent of the printing press 70 years later. The educated elite could read, but they preferred to hear texts read out loud for entertainment. The Canterbury Tales, with their earthy humor and and vivid dialogue, were a runaway success.

12 Geoffrey Chaucer c. 1343-1400  Considered the father of English poetry  Wrote in the vernacular  Served as a soldier, government servant, and member of Parliament  Introduced iambic pentameter  First writer buried in Westminster Abbey

13  The Canterbury Tales identified ‘archetypes’  Chaucer identified ‘archetypes’ to represent the main professions or positions in his society Feudal (farm / military) Feudal (farm / military) Ecclesiastical (church / politics) Ecclesiastical (church / politics) Urban (business / service) Urban (business / service)  Religious pilgrimage  All different social classes  Each tell a tale  Contest for best story

14  Prologue  He picked 7 – 9 ‘people / profession’ and used humor, wit, and vivid description to characterize each in his prologue.  Characterization revealed the flaws / positive traits of each individual sent a message aboutsocial group  Consequently, Chaucer sent a message about the given social group

15 Canterbury Tales as Satire  A satire is a form of humor where the writer or speaker tries to make the reader or listener have a negative opinion about someone, by laughing at them, making them seem ridiculous or foolish etc.negative  If someone is being satirical, their aim is not just to amuse, but to affect the person that they dislike; to hurt them, ruin them, etc.

16 Why Satire Worked Why Satire Worked ○ People like comedy (do not personally take offense) ○ People realize flaws on their own ○ People realize flaws on their own by viewing the characters; rather than, in a direct lecture

17 The archetypes: As you read, see if you can figure out who’s who! The archetypes: Survivor, fighter, serial lover, lush, snob, bully, adulterer, hunter, preacher, convict, fugitive, philosopher, serial killer, a con-artist, and an infected As you read, see if you can figure out who’s who!

18 IV. The Three Estates Those who workThose who fightThose who pray

19 The Travelers to Canterbury Working Class Plowman Haberdasher Cook Dyer Miller Carpenter Reeve Weaver Host Carpetmaker

20 The Travelers to Canterbury Professional Class Military Knight, Squire, Yeoman Religious Nun, 3 Priests, Friar, Parson, Pardoner, Summoner Secular Cleric, Serjeant at Law, Merchant, Skipper, Doctor

21 The Travelers to Canterbury Upper Class Wife of Bath Franklin

22 Twenty-nine pilgrims are on their way to the shrine of Saint Thomas à Becket in Canterbury. The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer The time is April, and the place is the Tabard Inn in Southwark (SUTH erk), just outside London. Canterbury London

23 This yeoman wore a coat and hood of green, And peacock-feathered arrows, bright and keen Chaucer uses indirect characterization when he tells how each character The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Literary Focus: Characterization looks and dresses Her greatest oath was only “By St. Loy!” speaks and acts And gladly would he learn, and gladly teach. thinks and feels

24 Indirect Characterization describes them by :  Their jobs (level in the estate)  The type and color of their clothing  Their “accessories” (jewelry, pets, other portables)  The way they act (humble or haughty) and how others react to them  Their income and how it shows  Their “secrets”  Their status in society as a whole  The way they speak / their slang or accent  Their modes of transportation  Whether they behave corruptly

25 The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Literary Focus: Characterization Chaucer also uses direct characterization, when he comes right out and tells us what a character’s nature is—virtuous, vain, clever, and so on. There was a Friar, a wanton one and merry, A Limiter, a very festive fellow. In all Four Orders there was none so mellow, So glib with gallant phrase and well-turned speech.

26 In The Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims’ journey is the outer story. A frame story is a literary device that binds together several different narratives. It is a story (or stories) within a story. The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Literary Focus: Frame Story The tales the pilgrims tell are stories within a story. The tales themselves also have thematic unity.

27 Chaucer had twenty-nine characters to introduce, so he couldn’t develop any one character at great length. Instead, he provided a few well- chosen details that would make each character stand out vividly. The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Reading Skills: Analyzing Style: Key Details

28 As you read the Prologue, pay close attention to any details that help give you an immediate impression of a character. Note that some details contradict what the characters think of themselves (or want others to think of them). The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Reading Skills: Analyzing Style: Key Details Keep a pen and notebook handy to jot down key details of dress, appearance, and behavior.

29 But why go to Canterbury?

30 One Answer: Religion. Why was it important to them?  It’s the Middle Ages Plague Warfare High Infant Mortality Rate Short Life Expectancy …and if you were a peasant, you lived your whole life in harsh conditions  About the best thing that you had to look forward to was dying and going to heaven

31 People of all classes went on pilgrimages to holy sites to ask for help with medical, financial or other problems.

32 The Shrine of St. Thomas à Becket

33 Becket was a trusted adviser and friend of King Henry II. Henry named Becket Archbishop of Canterbury.

34 Becket’s outspoken style angered the King. One day, Henry complained, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Three knights rode to Canterbury where they found Becket at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral.

35 Becket was murdered at the altar.

36 The death of Becket angered the peasants who felt his Saxon heritage made him one of them.

37 Canterbury Cathedral became a site for pilgrims to offer prayers to St. Thomas.

38 Today, a modern cross made from swords marks the site of the martyrdom.

39 So, let’s travel back to London, to the area called Southward, and stop at the Tabard Inn.

40 We’ll meet the characters and hear their stories.

41 The story begins...

42 Canterbury Tales 1 Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote When April with its sweet-smelling showers 2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, Has pierced the drought of March to the root, 3. And bathed every veyne in swich licour And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid 4. Of which vertu engendred is the flour; By the power of which the flower is created; 5. Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth When the West Wind also with its sweet breath, 6. Inspired hath in every holt and heeth In every holt and heath, has breathed life into 7. The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne The tender crops, and the young sun 8. Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne, Has run its half course in Aries, 9. And smale foweles maken melodye, And small fowls make melody, 10 That slepen al the nyght with open ye Those that sleep all the night with open eyes 11 (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages), (So Nature incites them in their hearts), 12 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, Then folk long to go on pilgrimages, 13 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, And professional pilgrims (long) to seek foreign shores, 14 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; To (go to) distant shrines, known in various lands; 15 And specially from every shires ende And specially from every shire's end 16 Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende, Of England to Canterbury they travel, 17 The hooly blisful martir for to seke, To seek the holy blessed martyr, 18 That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. Who helped them when they were sick.

43 Group Activity  Choose a group of 3 or less (5 points will be deducted for additional group members; no credit will be given to groups with identical answers)  Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. Identify 3 main social groups in American Society? ○ Ex: White Collar Workers 2. Create a list of ‘archetypes’ for each social group. (You must have 5-7 people / professions for each group) ○ Ex: CEO 3. Choose one ‘archetype’ (person / profession) from a group to characterize ○ You must have 5-10 sentences that clearly characterize your ‘archetype’ by pointing out their flaws / positive traits through the use of humor / vivid description. ○ Your overall description of each ‘archetype’ must reveal an issue related to its corresponding class ○ Ex: Describe their appearance should relate to message (Ex: gluttonous =  large presence)  Describe clothing and possessions (Ex: greedy = expensive name  brands, jewelry, car, etc…)  Describe mannerisms (Ex: arrogant = walk tall, loud, rude, …)  Describe back story (Ex: fake = lots of money but in credit card debt,  insider trading charges, …) 4. Write the class issue you are highlighting under your ‘archetype’s’ description ○ Ex: Unequal distribution of wealth within companies, corruption of the upper class, materialism, …) 5. Construct a cartoon sketch of your ‘archetype’ that matches your description

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