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Canterbury Tales Prologue

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1 Canterbury Tales Prologue
The character’s and their stereotypes: revelations and perceptions* Summaries borrowed from

2 The Knight (lines 43-80) Noble in battle—enjoys adventure
The epitome of chivalry Strong and brave (especially to have survived so many battles—15 plus jousts—always killed his man) Wise Modest “a true and perfect gentle knight” Has fine horses Dresses in natural clothing with smudges Realistic/humanized Going on the Pilgrimage to show thanks to God for his talents Chaucer/the narrator admires the Knight despite the decline of chivalry. Most of his battles are religious leading us to believe he is a crusader.

3 Gossip! You have 2 minutes to gossip with your table mates about the traveler. Consider discussing... Your opinion of the traveler If you would like to “get to know” them better How you feel about them Symbols that might represent them REMEMBER TO STAY IN CHARACTER! The most interesting table conversation will receive a prize at the end of our presentation time!

4 The Knight (lines 43-80) GOOD GUY Noble in battle—enjoys adventure
The epitome of chivalry Strong and brave (especially to have survived so many battles—15 plus jousts—always killed his man) Wise Modest “a true and perfect gentle knight” Has fine horses Dresses in natural clothing with smudges Realistic/humanized Going on the Pilgrimage to show thanks to God for his talents Chaucer/the narrator admires the Knight despite the decline of chivalry. Most of his battles are religious leading us to believe he is a crusader.


6 The Squire (lines 81-102) Potentially GOOD GUY
The Knight’s son—youthful (20 years old); “lover” and “cadet” Curly hair (as if pressed) Suggests he’s a dandy—concerned with his looks Served in the cavalry and done valiantly Likes to sing and write songs Does everything with a passion Destined to become just like his father Contrasts with his father—the religious chivalric knight—the squire is very “romantic.” His dress is fancy and there is a lot of social desire. Always out to win his lady’s favor in the cavalry. Chaucer is accepting of the squire, but not admiring. He has growing up to do, but will make a good knight


8 The Yeoman (lines103-121) GOOD GUY An attendant of the Squire
Dressed in green; carries peacock arrows and a bow and wears a bracelet to protect his arm; a sword; a shield; and a dagger Head like a nut w/brown face A hunter and woodworker—attends the Squire but has his own personality St. Christopher’s medal Patron Saint of Travelers Chaucer looks at the Yeoman positively and uses no irony in the description; Suggests that like the Knight and the Squire, the Yeoman is a worthy occupation


10 Prioress (Nun)—(lines122-168)
Eglentyen/sweetbriar Exceptionally mannerly when eating Animal rights activist—should be concerned with? PEOPLE! Sentimental and tender & speaks elegant French Smile is “simple and coy”; “elegant” nose; “glass gray eyes,”; small, soft, red mouth suggests… Perfect beauty Greed & Pride (moderate) Coral trinket on her arm, green prayer beads, “Love Conquers all” on her golden brooch suggests… Rich tastes; worldliness Irony of Chaucer: charity should be for needy people, but it is for animals; love is very worldly rather than Amor Dei, godly; expresses a desire to show courtly manners, rather than follow rules of simplicity; expensive jewelry suggests worldliness instead of poverty.


12 The Monk (lines 169-211) Greed (extreme)
A Manly Man, fat, prominent eyeballs, supple boots, not pale, Loves hunting & fine food Bridle “jingles”; garnished sleeves; fine tunic; owns many horses and greyhounds; suggests… Wealth he should not have Ignores the rules of the monastery The Monk it Chaucer’s prologue is corrupt; Loves good food, expensive clothing and hunting violate the monastic views of poverty and simplicity and displays no guilt. Hunting was a big no-no for Monks. Irony: “finest sort”, suitable to be an abbot, agrees with point of view, “fair prelaat”


14 The Friar (lines 212-279) Lust & Greed (extreme)
Brother Hubert has a white neck Supports himself through begging—well rehearsed and spoken Loved among the rich land owners; Only deals with the rich; avoids the poor beggars and lepers…suggests… He is corrupt and only cares about worldly things Sings and plays hurdy-gurdy and lisps to attract women Fixes up many young women…after giving them lovely gifts…suggests… He has seduced them first Knows the taverns and the barmaids well suggests… Took confessions—and pardons them…for a “gift”…suggests… He manipulates people’s desire to be good Arbitrates disputes for a fee Lust & Greed (extreme) Chaucer paints a picture of the corrupt clergy Irony: “strong pillar of the church”, calls him merry, sweet, pleasant and worthy


16 Merchant (lines 280-294) Misguided Good Guy
Split beard, assorted dress, Flemish beaver hat, buckled boots. An expert with money and exchanging money In debt but no one knows because he “cooks the books” Representative of the middle class; is in debt but pretends not to be an hides it cleverly; Chaucer says he is a worthy man—respects the middle class despite the deception


18 The Oxford Cleric (lines 295-318)
Still a student Thin horse; thin, hollow, sober staring man; thread bare coat Prefers books to clothes “philosopher’s stone” reference—myth of philosophy Formal and extremely respectful—gladly learn and teach Good Guy Idealized character- a serious student who cars for little but studying and is so poor he cant even keep clothes on his back or books on his tables; When he speaks, he speaks with a purpose and he always prays for others. Forfeits worldly pleasure for knowledge.


20 The Lawyer (lines 319-341) Envy (moderate)
Expert lawyer with great import Offers himself as a judge Discreet and cautious Homely parti-colored coat, girt with a silken belt of pin-stripe stuff Irony: Chaucer makes a point to comment on pretending as a part of human nature and the Lawyer believes he is much more important than society really views him.


22 The Franklin (lines 341-379) Envy & Pride (Extreme)
Daisy white beard, cheerful Always has food and drink ready at his house Parliamentary representative for the country Had a dagger and a little purse of silk—white as morning milk Sheriff he checked every entry The Franklin as a social climber and spends most of his time pretending he is better than he is. He is a hedonist (pleasure is all important). He loves happy people who will eat and drink with him.


24 The Craftsmen (lines 371-388)
Envy (moderate) Carpenter, haberdasher, dyer, weaver, tapestry maker Dressed more mightily than their rank suggests Wives follow behind with and insist on being called “Madam” while their mantles are carried like royalty The craftsmen are treated as a group and none is given of single. Chaucer again is making the point that people like to pretend they are better than they truly are and he seems to satirize them through their wives.


26 The Cook (lines 389-397) Gluttony (moderate)
Good cook who makes thick soup—had an ulcer on his knee (a crusty sore) Travels with the guildsman


28 The Skipper (lines 498-420) Greed (moderate) Very good at his job
Rides well Wears a dagger on his neck Tanned from the summer heat Steals wine from the captain while the captain sleeps Owned the Maudelayne


30 The Doctor (lines 421-454) Greed
Talks really well about medicine as related to astronomy Practice magic and medicine according to the stars Did not read the Bible but knew all about Greek mythology Wore blood-red garments with bluish-gray lines Had a special love for gold The doctor knew his art well, which he used to his advantage by making sure he could make a profit by manipulating the facts in cahoots with the apothecaries. Suggests he is very greedy, but is very stereotypical of the doctors of the time.


32 The Wife of Bath (lines 455-486)
Pride & Lust (Moderate) Somewhat deaf Makes wool Gets married a lot (5 times already) Wore scarlet red hose and tight garter; bold, handsome, red face with a gap in her teeth Been on many pilgrimages Knows everything about love Thinks of herself as the best person and dresses boldly. Gap toothed person in the Middle Ages is very lucky and travels far and wide. She knows how to enjoy herself and brags about knowing the cure for loves. Character appeals for the liberation of women—but she can be offensive Irony: “Amor Remedia” rather than “Ars Amatoria” (remedy over art)


34 The Parson (lines 487-438) Good Guy
Rich in spirit, but monetarily poor Gives his own goods to his people and calls on people no mater what Always fair and wise Always follows what is right Idealized figure: devoid of any irony or satire. The most virtuous of all the pilgrims but serves as a criticism of the priests in the Middle Ages. Opposed to excommunicating poor parishioners who could not pay their tithes to the church and sometimes gives his own money to the poor even though he has very little. Chaucer uses the imagery of a shepherd tending his flock because of his virtue. An ideal stereotype of what priesthood should be—contrast to other religious figures


36 The Plowman ( lines 539-555) Good Guy
The Parson’s brother, works hard and honestly for his living Wears a tabard (loose jacket) smock and rode a mare Idealized character—industrious and a hard worker who lives in peace and always helps out his neighbors. He loves God and always pays his tithes. Chaucer admires his pride and is calling.


38 The Miller (lines 561-584) Wrath, Greed, Lust
Robin weighs 224 lbs, very strong and wins at wrestling because he broad, knotty and short-shouldered; can heave a door off its hinges Wart on his nose; nostrils were black and wide; mouth like a furnace door Carries a sword and buckler; wears a hood of blue and a white coat and plays bagpipes (Irish descent) Representation of a dishonest man; he is a rich and makes as much of his own profits as he can; physical description is representative of his personality: shameless, wordy, quarrelsome, deceitful and lecherous. He steals grain and yet has a golden thumb Irony: “golden thumb” increases his own profits only


40 Manciple (lines 585-604) Greed (moderate)
Buyer of provisions for a college or court Watches the market precisely Illiterate but outwits the educated As dishonest as the Miller and always makes a profit on his purchases Irony: praise of financial wisdom that enables him to trick the wise of the country—professional malpractice


42 The Reeve (lines 605-640) Lust & Greed
Oswald—slender and choleric; closely shaven beard; shorn hair abruptly stops above his ears; docked on top like a priest; chicken legs; Wears an overcoat of blue; has a rusty blade at his side Manages the estates of wealthy land owners Steals from the estate Learned carpentry Choleric temper and slender legs indicate a lecherous character; inferior position indicated by facial hair; he is deceitful because he cheats his lord and blackmails the others in the county and everyone fears him as a result. He is richer than his lord and lends him money.


44 The Summoner (lines 641-688) Greed, Sloth
Fire0red cherubinnish face with pus-filled boils all over; has narrow eyes and is lecherous; black scabby brows and a thin beard and his appearance scares small kids Loves garlic, onions and leeks as well as strong wine and only speaks in Latin when he is drunk Blackmails everyone he can Wore garland on his head Allows sinners to keep mistresses for a year in return for wine—likely he commits the same sin illiterate Responsible for summoning sinners before the church courts but Chaucer shows extreme loathing for the character; grouped with the pardoner—also hated by Chaucer; physical deformities represent an awful soul Sarcasm: approval of the summoner “friendlier rascal”


46 The Pardoner (lines 689-734) Greed, Sloth
Compared to Summoner—together they sing a song about lustful love Has yellow waxy hair hanging down on his head thin like rat-tails; has bulging eyeballs; small voice like a goat; no beard Wore a little cap Personification of evil; sells holy relics and favors to pardon people form all their sins to ensure purgatory; extorts money from people by preaching against having money; has repulsive physical features; special skill is singing at the offertory to extract money. Sarcastic tone rather than subtle irony


48 The Host (lines767-803) Good Guy
Harry Bailey is friendly, agreeable, and sensible very warm and inviting Offers the story telling contest to the pilgrims Joins them on the quest to serve as a mediator

49 Chaucer Author and appears as a pilgrim through the narrative
Functions as a naïve narrator and the guide on the way to Canterbury and we learn about his society through the irony and sarcasm he relates through the tales and stories. His tone requires careful reflection

50 Good Guys Knight Squire Yeoman Merchant Oxford Cleric Parson Plowman Host Bad Guys Nun Monk Friar Lawyer Franklin Craftsmen Cook Skipper Doctor Wife of Bath Miller Manciple Reeve Summoner Pardoner

51 “The Ship of Fools” The allegory shows a boat “populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious, passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction.”

52 Good Guys Knight Squire Yeoman Merchant Oxford Cleric Parson Plowman Host Bad Guys Nun Monk Friar Lawyer Franklin Craftsmen Cook Skipper Doctor Wife of Bath Miller Manciple Reeve Summoner Pardoner

53 How can Chaucer’s Pilgrims be seen as a “ship of fools”?
Give examples.

54 Feudalism Sure! It's really easy to set up, but it made a big difference with my students. It's basically three interlocking circles for the three estates: orare (those who pray), pugnare (those who fight), and labore (those who work). Make sure you leave a LOT of room in the overlapping areas, because that's where most of the characters go! The idea is that the pilgrims aren't as easy to categorize as they may first appear. There are only three "perfect" ideals (parson, knight, plowman), but the tales themselves even contradict that idea. Each of my three classes ended up with a different diagram, but the way they explained their choices was the real value of the lesson. And they saw that the "best" classes had some not-so-great people, while the "worst" class had some great characters.


56 Chaucer’s society is… How does this compare to our own?
Explain your response by using specific comparisons between our stereotypes and Chaucer’s

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