2 Canterbury Tales Written around 1387-1400 Written by Geoffrey Chaucer SoldierCourtierRoyal emissary to EuropeController of customsJustice of the peaceMember of ParliamentartistChaucer’s background enables him to give us a rich and varied portraits of contemporaries from every walk of lifeBorn around 1340
3 PrologueChaucer has the idea to bring together 29 “sondry folk” in a pilgrimage (“by aventure [chance]”)Represent a wide range of 14th century English societyMakes comprehensive study of human beingsPerfect way to present his ironyBy adventure (chance)Most of these people on the journey would never have anything to do with each other socially. Differing social classes, orders, etc.The best way for Chaucer to bring togetherMakes comprehensive study of humans (his favorite subject)Perfect way to present his special brand of irony
4 Prologue Represent a wide range of 14th century English society 3 Groups Represent:Agricultural feudalismLandownership and serviceKnight’s yeomanFranklinUrbanizationChange in feudal structureDoctorGuildsmenThe ChurchOne of the most powerful elements in medieval soceity9 of pilgrims belong to clergy
5 Prologue Each pilgrim Teller of best tale is rewarded at the end tell two stories on the way to Canterburytwo stories on the way backPlan proposed by Harry Bailey, host of the Tabard InnTeller of best tale is rewarded at the endA dinner provided by his fellow pilgrims at the TabardHarry Bailey is judgeEach pilgrim is supposed to tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two stories on the way back.Plan is proposed by Harry Bailey, the host of the Tabard InnTeller of best tale is rewarded at the end with a dinner provided by his fellow pilgrims at the Tabard.Harry Bailey will be the judge
6 ProloguePrologue sets the scene and introduces reader to the charactersBetween many of the tales Chaucer expounds upon the personalities of the pilgrims.Number of arguments that prepare for subsequent talesSome pilgrims introduce a tale with a commentary on his/her own personal lifePrologue sets the scene and introduces reader to the charactersBetween many of the tales Chaucer provides links that expound upon the personalities of the pilgrims (adds more dramatic interest).Number of arguments that prepare for subsequent talesSome pilgrims introduce a tale with a commentary on his own personal life
7 Prologue Chaucer’s project was never finished Only 24 tales existTales were probably composed at various times in Chaucer’s life
8 PrologueBegins with a long, rhetorical sentence in “high style” describing spring.Gradually descends into a more “realistic” style of expository narrative.Begins with a long, rhetorical sentence in “high style” describing spring.Gradually descends into a more “realistic” style of expository narrative. Very “easy to read” conversational
9 Prologue Group is on its way to the holy shrine of St. Thomas ă Becket Archbishop of Canterburyopposed Henry II over the balance between royal and religious powerwas murdered in the cathedralConsidered a martyr and later made a saintHis blood was held to contain great curative qualities, restoring health to the sickGroup is on its way to the holy shrine of St. Thomas à BecketArchbishop of Canterbury who opposed Henry II over the balance between royal and religious power; was murdered in the cathedralConsidered a martyr and later made a saintHis blood was held to contain great curative qualities, restoring health to the sickSome are going to the shrine to have their sicknesses healed. (Small quantities of Becket’s blood was given to pilgrims for centuries after his death
10 The KnightWas an honorable warrior who fought for Christianity against the heathens.Appropriate that he is the first pilgrim to be introduced because he stands at the top of the social hierarchy, thus is the most socially prominent person on the journey.Tells the first story; many offer him compliments.All of the battles mentioned that he fought in were religious wars of some kind.The knight is the first of the pilgrims to be introduced. This is appropriate since the Kinght stands at the top of the social hierarchy in this gathering and since is is a virtuous character and embodies a standard of behavior against which some of the subsequent characters will be judged and found wanting.
11 The Knight Prologue’s description: Worthy man Loved the following ChivalryFidelityHonour (good reputation)GenerosityCourtesyHonoured for his worthiness in war
12 The Knight Prologue’s description: Fought in many battles/ had “been at many a noble expedition”AlexandriaPrussiaLithuania/LatviaRussiaGrenada at siege of Algeciras to Belmarye (north Africa)MoroccoThe MediterraneanTiemcenTurkeyThe list of the places in which the knight fought would have a romantic ring to Chaucer’s readers.Christendom in the The list of the places in which the knight fought would have a romantic ring to Chaucer’s readers.Christendom in the 14th century was relatively small, and circumscribed by heatheness – mysterious lands and peoples described by the occasional traveler.Yet the Knight’s campaigns are all real enough. They have been divided by historians into three group0s, chronologially: 1) inlcudes the long struggle to expel the Moorish invaders from Spain.The second group of campaigns occurred in the Great Sea – eastern Mediterranean & Asia MinorThird: borders of eastern and western Europe (
13 The Knight Prologue’s description: Even though he was brave, he was prudentDeportment: “meek as a maid”Never said any rude word in all his life to any personHorses were goodClothing/dressNot gaudily dressedTunic of coarse cloth, stained with rust from his chain mail suitHas just returned from an expedition
14 The Knight’s Tale Probably adapted from Boccaccio’s Teseide Tale of ideal love and chivalry.Would be a popular type of tale in Chaucer’s day.
15 The Knight’s Tale Premise: Two Thebian knights, Palamon & Arcite, fall in love with the same woman, Emelye, whom they see only from their prison window in Athens.Their life-long friendship is immediately disrupted by their rivalry for Emelye.In time Arcite is released from prison on the condition that he never again set foot in Athens.Palamon eventually escapes years later.
16 The Knight’s TaleThe men meet by chance in a grove hear Athens and are about to fight when Theseus and his company interrupt them.After forgiving the knights for their past, Theseus schedules a tournament (50 weeks later) for the hand of Emelye.Arcite wins the tournament, but scarcely has had time to claim his fair prize when the misaligned planet Saturn causes him to fall from his horse and die shortly afterward.
17 The Knight’s TalePalamon forgets his ill feelings toward Arcite and retires to Thebes, where he mourns his former friend.Several years later, Theseus summons Palamon, who is still mourning and wearing black, and gives him Emelye in marriage.Makes of two sorrows one “parfit joye, lastynge everemo.”
18 The Knight’s Tale Not much action in the romance. Two knights are almost the sameBothMake speeches declaring their loveCurse their destinyPray to their respective gods
19 The Knight’s TaleConflict that a story about medieval knights and their customs would be set in ancient Greece.