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Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer  Author of The Canterbury Tales – Father of English Poetry  1340? A.D. – 1400 A.D.  Middle class, well- educated.

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Presentation on theme: "Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer  Author of The Canterbury Tales – Father of English Poetry  1340? A.D. – 1400 A.D.  Middle class, well- educated."— Presentation transcript:

1 Canterbury Tales

2 Geoffrey Chaucer  Author of The Canterbury Tales – Father of English Poetry  1340? A.D. – 1400 A.D.  Middle class, well- educated (father was wine merchant), jobs at court  Devoted, orthodox Catholic who perceived abuses within Church and exposed them w/amusement

3  The Canterbury Tales were written by Chaucer in Middle English.  It is the basis for our Modern English of today. Middle English

4 What is The Canterbury Tales all about anyway?  Consists of MANY (would have been much more if Chaucer wouldn’t have died) tales about MANY different characters  Each of the tales in his work are part of a larger story, known as a frame story.  The Host to the people on the pilgrimage connects each story together.  The context for having so many tales is a contest to see who can tell the best story while on a journey to see St. Thomas a Becket’s tomb.

5 The Pilgrimage  All the characters in The Canterbury Tales travel together to Canterbury to visit the tomb of St. Thomas a Becket.  Chaucer introduces these characters in “The General Prologue” (one of the stories within the frame story).  They leave London to go to Canterbury.

6 The Pilgrims’ Way

7 St. Thomas a Becket  Becket, a political ally of Henry II in the king’s fight with the church, was named head of the Church of England after serving as Henry’s Chancellor.  But the newly ordained Archbishop of Canterbury surprised and infuriated his king by becoming a staunch proponent of the church.  After years of quarreling with Henry, Becket returned to Canterbury in 1170 after six years of exile, only to be murdered within his own cathedral by four knights responding to King Henry’s angry demand, “Who will rid me of this low- born priest?” His brains were spilled all over the floor.  He was canonized 3 years later; shrine completed in  Thousands of pilgrims came to Canterbury Cathedral each year to visit the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket.

8 Canterbury Cathedral

9 The Crypt Becket’s tomb in the crypt under the main cathedral became a shrine almost from the moment of his death in 1170 until 1220, when it was relocated.

10 Becket’s Tomb Inside the cathedral is the present shrine to St. Thomas a Becket.

11 Trinity Chapel In 1220 the shrine to St. Thomas was moved to the main level of the cathedral, in Trinity Chapel, at the far end of the enormous and beautiful span of the cathedral.

12 Trinity Chapel There it continued to draw thousands of pilgrims each year until its destruction in 1538, when King Henry VIII allowed the plundering of England’s cathedrals and monasteries.

13 Becket Memorialized in Cathedral Window Becket’s life story is told in a wall of stained glass windows -- Becket and King Henry 2 are momentarily reconciled (top); Becket prays as the king’s men attack (bottom); a pilgrim visits the shrine after Thomas’ death (middle).

14 The Tales  work existed in fragments at Chaucer’s death  planned for each of 30 to tell 2 tales/going & 2 tales/returning (120 stories in original framework)?  we have only one story each from 24 pilgrims  written between  each tale deals with one of Chaucer’s themes  regularly rhyming couplets  Chaucer customarily writes a five-stress, ten-syllable line, alternating unstressed and stressed syllables (what would later be called iambic pentameter):  told in social order (except for Miller)

15 A pageant of 14th Century life  Pilgrims span the whole range of the unofficial middle class. Groups represented are:  Upper class (Knight, Squire, church people);  Learned professions (Physician, Man of Law);  Landed gentry (Franklin);  Medieval manor people (Miller, Reeve);  Mercantile class (Shipman, Merchant);  Guildsmen (Haberdasher, Dyer, etc.);  Laborer (Plowman).

16 Chaucer’s Attitude 1. Chaucer treats seriously (Knight, Squire, Clerk, Parson, Plowman) 2. Some he pokes fun at (Prioress, Monk, Wife of Bath); 3. Some he is quiet about; short portraits with no personal view coming through (Prioress's entourage); 4. Some he does not admire; Chaucer is just a little negative (Shipman, Manciple); 5. Hardened sinners, all of them religious officials/He is not pleased with these. (Friar, Pardoner, Summoner)

17 Structure & Style  Tales have different tones, attitudes, poetic style: Why do you think Chaucer would do this?  noble, romantic tone for Knight’s Tale  bawdy parody for Miller’s Tale  Point of View  Chaucer enables reader to see story, person telling story, point behind story--all at once  points of view represent different outlooks, morals

18 Varied Genres Virtually every type of medieval writing is represented.  Fabliaux – Story based on clever tricks involving infidelity.  Mock-Heroic – Ridicule, by imitation, of chivalric literature and heroic characters  Mock-Romance – Ridicule of chivalric romance by parody.  Chivalric Romance – A non-scholarly narrative in metrical verse; tale of love, adventure, knightly conflict an, and pageantry.  Bretan Lais – Set in the Brittany region of France; tales, Celtic in origin, of magic, fairies, folklore, and courtly love.  Beast Fable – Animal characters with human qualities; clever tale that preaches a moral lesson.  Prose Allegory – Non-poetic tale in which people and things represent abstract qualities.  Jokes – Humorous incidents that ridicule people  Sermon – An oratory preaching a Christian messge  Exemplum – A sermon that illustrates a known moral lesson  Saints Legend – A tale of inspirational acts or martyrdom  Miracle of the Virgin – Tale in which the Virgin Mary miraculously aids a follower in time of need.  Moral Tale – A tale to inspire moral conduct in the listener.

19 “The General Prologue”  introduction of pilgrims  all Catholics (150 years before Henry VIII broke from Rome)  some sought holiday, some heavenly benefit  common to travel together: rough roads, robbers, illnesses  St. Thomas à Becket of Canterbury  April in Southwark at Tabbard Inn, owner Harry Bailey  Bailey suggests they pass time by taking turns telling stories; best will win prize  brief portraits  masterfully ironic: left-handed compliments, praises w/quick reversals  real slice of life of middle-class


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