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Chaucer lived during a tumultuous period During his youth, the Bubonic Plague terrorized Europe, killing a large portion of the population.

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Presentation on theme: "Chaucer lived during a tumultuous period During his youth, the Bubonic Plague terrorized Europe, killing a large portion of the population."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chaucer lived during a tumultuous period During his youth, the Bubonic Plague terrorized Europe, killing a large portion of the population

2 Throughout Chaucer's life, the Church was in upheaval. It was caught in a position of deception and uncertainty, perhaps because of the Plague and economics. Nonetheless, the fraud occurring within the holy walls influenced Chaucer's work. During his lifetime, the Hundred Years War between England and France also took place In 1346, thanks in part to the use of the longbow, the English defeated a much larger mounted French force at Crecy, introducing a period of peace.

3 How the long wars between France & England started. Fighting started in the Hundred Years' War because the Kings of England - descendants of William the Conqueror who still spoke French -wanted to rule France as well. France was temptingly weak and divided. It began with the English King already ruling a large part of France and it ended with him ruling hardly any. Who ruled where in 1328

4 It is this period of political and social turmoil in England that allowed Chaucer to produce a large body of influential work. Known as a poet and often as a friend of the nobility, Chaucer was ultimately part of the bourgeois of England. bourgeoisie, n. (French). The merchants, professional persons (doctors, lawyers, professors), employers and white collar workers, as distinguished from: (1) The clergy; (2) The nobility and the landed gentry

5 Very little is actually known about Chaucer’s life, despite his rearing by a middle-class family. –His father was in the wine and leather trade, perhaps giving the family their surname -Chaucer- meaning a maker of footwear. –He was a page in a royal household during his youth, continued his relationship with royalty throughout his life, married the daughter of a knight, Philippa, and traveled to France and Spain. –His life was that of an active, responsible civil servant

6 Because of the political unrest of the time and Chaucer's sarcasm, he wrote Canterbury Tales consisting of a piece of each of England's stereotypical citizen archetypes put together in a mixing pot on their pilgrimage to Canterbury The destination is not as significant as the action that occurs along the way. The Tales are not even finished and the destination is not even reached SARCASM: cutting language: remarks that mean the opposite of what they seem to say and are intended to mock or deride

7 Archetypes: Universal symbols that speak in the language of the subconscious. They are the ideal images of deities and other powers Stereotype : a popularly held belief about a type of person or a group of people which does not take into account individual differences.

8 It is likely that Chaucer abandoned his great literary work in the last years of his life and turned his thoughts to the salvation of his soul. He not only abandoned the tales but also expressed regret for having ever written them, except those explicitly religious and moral Canterbury Cathedral: Where Thomas a Becket was murdered and the location of his shrine

9 These stories and prologues bring together a satire of Chaucer's contemporary England, commenting not only on the people of the time, but bringing in Christianity, perhaps primeval feminism with the Wife of Bath, anti- Semitism, sexuality, unfaithfulness, and humor. Not all of the tales are finished Wife of Bath

10 The General Prologue This is the key to The Canterbury Tales It narrates about the gathering of a group of people in an inn that intend to go on a pilgrimage to Canterbury (England) next morning. In the General Prologue, the narrator of The Canterbury Tales, who is one of the pilgrims, provides more or less accurate depictions of the members of the group and describes why and how The Canterbury Tales is told. Chaucer determined that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. The host of the inn offers to be and is appointed as judge of the tales as they are told and is supposed to determine the best hence winning tale.

11 Characters in the Canterbury Tales The Knight's Tale The Miller's Prologue and Tale The Reeve's Prologue and Tale The Cook's Prologue and Tale The Man of Law's Prologue & Tale The Wife of Bath’s Prologue & Tale The Friar's Prologue and Tale The Summoner's Prologue & Tale The Clerk's Prologue and Tale The Merchant's Prologue & Tale The Squire's Prologue and Tale The Franklin's Prologue & Tale The Physician's Tale The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale The Shipman's Tale The Prioress' Prologue and Tale Chaucer's Tale of Sir Topas The Tale of Melibee The Monk's Tale The Nun's Priest's Tale The Second Nun's Prologue & Tale The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue & Tale The Manciple's Prologue & Tale The Parson's Prologue & Tale Chaucer's Retraction

12 The Church In Chaucer’s Time Chaucer chided the Catholic Church noting a predilection of Catholic leaders, “for good food and bad women...." The Medieval Church played a far greater role in England than the Church does today. At that time the Church dominated everybody's life. All people - be they village peasants or towns people - believed that God, Heaven and Hell all existed. From the earliest of ages, the people were taught that the only way they could get to Heaven was if the Roman Catholic Church let them. Everybody would have been terrified of Hell and the people would have been told of the sheer horrors awaiting for them in Hell in the weekly services they attended.

13 The control the Church had over the people was total. Peasants worked for free on Church land. Their time could have been better spent working on their own plots of land producing food for their families. They paid 10% of what they earned in a year to the Church which could be paid in either money or in goods produced by the peasant farmers. As peasants had little money, they almost always had to pay in seeds, harvested grain, animals etc. caused a peasant a lot of hardship as seeds, for example, would be needed to feed a family the following year.

14 What the Church got in tithes was kept in huge tithe barns; a lot of the stored grain would have been eaten by rats or poisoned by their urine. A failure to pay tithes, so the peasants were told by the Church, would lead to their souls going to Hell after they had died. Now a museum, this building was once a tithe barn serving Maidstone, Kent

15 When looking at Chaucer's work, four things must be remembered about Chaucer himself and his time period. –He was a Catholic during the end of Catholicism in England, –He was chivalric –He was English –He was part of the Bourgeois. Chivalry refers to the medieval institution of knighthood, & most especially-ideals that were/have become associated with it throughout literature. It was also often associated with ideals of knightly virtues, honor and of courtly love.

16 The Narrator The narrator is also a character in his book. In the General Prologue, the narrator presents himself as a gregarious and naïve character. Later the Host accuses him of being silent & sullen. Because the narrator writes down his impressions of the pilgrims from memory, whom he does and does not like, and what he chooses and chooses not to remember about the characters, tells us as much about the narrator’s own prejudices as it does about the characters themselves.

17 At the Tabard Inn, just south of London, the poet-pilgrim falls in with a group of twenty nine other pilgrims who have met each other along the way.

18 The Knight The first pilgrim Chaucer describes in the General Prologue, and the teller of the first tale. The Knight represents the ideal of a medieval Christian man-at-arms. He has participated in no less than fifteen of the great crusades of his era. Brave, experienced, and prudent, the narrator greatly admires him. The Knight is the person of highest social standing on the pilgrimage though you would never know it from his modest manner or his clothes.

19 The Squire The Knight’s son and apprentice. The Squire is curly-haired, youthfully handsome, and loves dancing and courting. He has seen some military action, but it was to impress his lady not his Lord God. Unlike his parent, he is fashionably dressed. He is very much in love, he has cultivated all the social graces, and is also aware of his duty to serve as his father's squire

20 The Yeoman The servant who accompanies the Knight and the Squire is the yeoman. The narrator mentions that his dress and weapons suggest he may be a forester. He is noticeably over-armed for a pilgrimage, which indicates probably suspicion of the big city by a man more at home in the forest.

21 The Prioress Described as modest and quiet, this Prioress (a nun who is head of her convent) aspires to have exquisite taste. Her table manners are dainty, she knows French (though not the French of the court), she dresses well, and she is charitable and compassionate. She has a pretty face and knows it Her nun's habit is elegantly tailored, and she displays discreetly a little tasteful jewelry: a gold brooch on her rosary embossed with the nicely ambiguous Latin motto: Amor Vincit Omnia, Love conquers all.

22 The Monk Another member of the church who is supposed to stay in his monastery but who, finds an excuse to get away from it Most monks of the Middle Ages lived in monasteries according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, which demanded that they devote their lives to “work and prayer.” This Monk cares little for the Rule; his devotion is to hunting and eating. He is large, loud, and well clad in hunting boots and furs. He has lost any of the monastic ideals he may have set out with, and he now prefers travel, good clothes, good food, good hunting with well-equipped horses, in place of the poverty, study and manual labor prescribed by his monastic rule. He may not be a bad man, but he is not a good monk.

23 The Friar Roaming priests with no ties to a monastery, friars were an object of criticism. Always ready to befriend young women or rich men, the friar actively administers the sacraments in his town, especially those of marriage and confession. This worldly Friar takes bribes. He is even less a man of God than the Monk. A member of a mendicant order of men who lived on what they could get by begging, he has become a professional fundraiser, He has an attractive little lisp, a talent for mending quarrels and having the right little gift for the ladies, and a forgiving way in the confessional especially when he expects a generous donation.

24 The Merchant The Merchant trades in furs and other cloths He is part of a powerful and wealthy class He likes to TALK of his prosperity and is concerned about pirates and profits He is tightlipped about business details and in debt.

25 The Clerk The Clerk is a poor student of philosophy. Having spent his money on books and learning rather than on fine clothes, he is threadbare and wan. He speaks little, but when he does, his words are wise and full of moral virtue. He is the first admirable church member we meet on the pilgrimage. "Clerk" meant a number of related things: a cleric, a student, a scholar. This clerk is devoted to the love of learning and of God He would rather buy a book than a coat or a good meal

26 The Lawyer or Sergeant of the Law He is successful lawyer commissioned by the king. He upholds justice in matters large and small and knows every statute of England’s law by heart. The Sergeant of the Law is a successful but unostentatious, high-ranking lawyer who sometimes functions as a judge. We are told with just a touch of irony, that he is, like many of the pilgrims, the very best at what he does

27 The Franklin “franklin” means “free man.” In Chaucer’s society, a franklin was neither a vassal serving a lord nor a member of the nobility. This particular franklin is a connoisseur of food and wine, so much so that his table remains laid and ready for food all day. He is a generous extroverted man who likes good food and drink and sharing them with others, somewhat like St Julian, the patron saint of hospitality

28 The Haberdasher, a Dyer, a Carpenter, A Weaver, and a Carpetmaker Somewhat lower in the social scale is a group of Skilled Tradesmen most of them connected with the fabric trades and belonging to a guild, a "fraternity". Their prosperity shows in their clothes, and their accouterments and the fact that they have brought their own cook

29 The Cook The Cook works for the Guildsmen. Chaucer gives little detail about him, although he mentions a crusty sore on the Cook’s leg.

30 The Shipman Brown-skinned from years of sailing, the Shipman has seen every bay and river in England, and exotic ports in Spain and Carthage as well. He is a bit of a rascal, known for stealing wine while the ship’s captain sleeps He is not above a little larceny or piracy and in a sea fight he does not take prisoners.

31 The Doctor The Physician is one of the best in his profession, for he knows the cause of every malady and can cure most of them. Though the Physician keeps himself in perfect physical health, the narrator calls into question the Physician’s spiritual health: he rarely consults the Bible and has an unhealthy love of financial gain. While it sounds to us more like astrology and magic than medicine, he makes a good living at it.

32 The Wife of Bath Bath is an English town, not the name of this woman’s husband. She is a seamstress by occupation, but seems to be a professional wife. She has been married 5 times & had many other affairs in her youth, making her well practiced in the art of love. She has been to Jerusalem 3 times & her hat & hips are as large as her sexual appetite She loves marriage and sex, and, from what we see of her, she also loves rich attire, talking, and arguing. She is deaf in one ear and has a gap between her front teeth, which was considered attractive in Chaucer’s time. She has traveled on pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times She is one of only 3 women on the pilgrimage.

33 The Parson The only devout churchman in the company, the Parson lives in poverty, but is rich in holy thoughts and deeds. The pastor of a sizable town, he preaches the Gospel and makes sure to practice what he preaches. He is everything that the Monk, the Friar, and the Pardoner are not. Unlike most of the other pilgrims, he is not physically described, perhaps because he is such an ideal figure.

34 The Plowman The Plowman is the Parson’s brother and is equally good- hearted. He is a member of the peasant class He pays his tithes to the Church and leads a good Christian life. He probably has the lowest in social rank on the pilgrimage and one of the highest in spirituality,

35 The Miller Stout and brawny, the Miller has a wart on his nose and a big mouth, both literally and figuratively. He drunkenly insists on telling the second tale. The Miller seems to enjoy overturning all conventions He ruins the Host’s carefully planned storytelling order; he rips doors off hinges; and he tells a tale that is somewhat blasphemous, ridiculing religious clerks, scholarly clerks, carpenters, and women. His idea of fun is smashing doors down with his head or telling vulgar stories.

36 The Manciple The Manciple is in charge of buying provisions for a group of Lawyers in London. Despite his lack of education, he is smarter than the 30 lawyers he feeds.

37 The Reeve A reeve was similar to a steward of a manor This reeve performs his job shrewdly—his lord never loses so much as a ram to the other employees, and the vassals under his command are kept in line. However, he steals from his master. Old and suspicious, he is also a choleric man, that is he has a short temper that matches his skinny frame.

38 The Summoner The Summoner brings persons accused of violating Church law to ecclesiastical court. This Summoner is a lecherous man whose face is scarred by leprosy. He gets drunk frequently, is irritable, and is not particularly qualified for his position. He spouts the few words of Latin he knows in an attempt to sound educated.

39 The Pardoner Pardoners granted papal indulgences—reprieves from penance in exchange for charitable donations to the Church. The Pardoner excels in fraud, carrying a bag full of fake relics—for example, he claims to have the veil of the Virgin Mary. He has long, greasy, yellow hair and is beardless. These characteristics were associated with shiftiness and gender ambiguity in Chaucer’s time. The Pardoner also a gift for singing and preaching whenever he finds himself inside a church. He is with the disgusting Summoner who is his friend, his singing partner and possibly his lover,

40 The Nun’s Priest Like the Second Nun, the Nun’s Priest is not described in the General Prologue. His story of Chanticleer, in the poem is well crafted and suggests that he is a witty, self- effacing preacher

41 The Second Nun The Second Nun is not described in the General Prologue, but she tells a saint’s life for her tale.

42 The Host After serving dinner, Harry Bailly, the fictional Host or owner of the Tabard Inn originates the idea for the Tales The leader of the group, the Host is large, loud, and merry, although he possesses a quick temper. He mediates among the pilgrims and facilitates the flow of the tales. His title of “host” may be a pun, suggesting both an innkeeper and the Eucharist, or Holy Host.


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