Geoffrey Chaucer His World His life & Influences His most famous work, The Canterbury Tales
Rise of the Towns Introduction of Money Emergence of a new social class: Middle or Mercantile Wealth & corruption of the church Effect of the Plague: “the death knell of feudalism” His World: What was going on?
Chaucer’s Life Father was a wine merchant: part of the rising middle class Became a page in an aristocratic household Occupations include diplomat, member of parliament, & customs official Career gave him the opportunity to travel Died 1400 (1 st in Poet’s Corner)
Literary Influences Mastered Latin, French, and Italian Translated literary works Aware of French and Italian literary models, particularly Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio Gentleness and cheerfulness prevail in his verse Innocent narrator “The Father of English Literature”
The Canterbury Tales Modeled on Boccaccio’s Decameron Story of a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral A frame story: device of a pilgrimage throws diverse people together: The Ship of Fools Everything from hypocrisy to holiness Representative view of 14 th century English society: The Feudal Group (also Agricultural) The Middle Class (or Mercantile) The Ecclesiastical (or Church) Group
The pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas à Beckett
The Frame Story: a story within a story 29 pilgrims meet at the Tabard Inn The tales the pilgrims tell en route (24 in all) The Frame: the Prologue The Inside of the Frame: Individual Tales The host, Harry Bailey, proposes a story-telling contest
Chaucer’s language: Chose to write in English: Affected the entire course of the English language: Added to the prestige and use of English over Latin and French Known as Middle English (2 nd stage of development of the English language: Old, Middle, New)
Old English Noun Declension Singular Plural Nominative se dægtha dagas Accusative thone dæg tha dagas Genitive thæs dæges thara daga Dative thæm dæge thæm dagum Instrumental thy dægethæm dagum
Several things happened to change English at the time of the Norman Conquest: French became the official written language, and English became the unofficial, spoken language. Effect of this? RADICAL, swift change “To the victor belongs the spoils.” William the Conqueror What happened?
How did English after the Norman Conquest? 1.Endings of Anglo-Saxon words were dropped 2.Vocabulary doubles in size (this is how we get LATIN in our language) 3.Inflection was greatly reduced or leveled 4.WORD ORDER BECOMES IMPORTANT! 5.Loss of grammatical gender 6.Archaic letters drop out
Old English Noun Declension Singular Plural Nominative se dægtha dagas Accusative thone dæg tha dagas Genitive thæs dæges thara daga Dative thæm dæge thæm dagum Instrumental thy dægethæm dagum All of this
Became... Singular: Plural: Nominative/ Accusative: the day the dayes Genitive: the dayes in Middle English
The Prologue in Middle English Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages); Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.