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GEOFFREY CHAUCER: THE CANTERBURY TALES. Introducing… Geoffrey Chaucer Born 1340 Son of a wine merchant in a middle class household He became the page.

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Presentation on theme: "GEOFFREY CHAUCER: THE CANTERBURY TALES. Introducing… Geoffrey Chaucer Born 1340 Son of a wine merchant in a middle class household He became the page."— Presentation transcript:


2 Introducing… Geoffrey Chaucer Born 1340 Son of a wine merchant in a middle class household He became the page in a royal house, then a soldier, and eventually a diplomat and royal clerk Married a lady-in-waiting to the queen

3 More on Chaucer Began writing in his twenties LOVED to travel He was considered the greatest English poet during his life Died October 25, 1400 and is buried in Westminster Abbey

4 What’s Happening in Britain?! Feudalism! The dominant social system in medieval Europe. 4 Dominant Classes: Monarch: Top class, ruled their kingdom, divided the land and governed their people. Lords: Had castles and manors, governed their area and set laws, and raised army. Knights: Fought wars for their lord and king and competed in many tournaments. Peasants: Grew food for the people, lowest class, provided many services.

5 What’s Happening in Britain?! Famine Black Death Life expectancy below 30 Monks and nuns run hospitals – leeches! No dental hygiene = no teeth & smelly breath! The Catholic CHURCH could save you – more important than the King

6 Life Reflects Art Each character in The Canterbury Tales represents a different segment of society in Chaucer’s time. Chaucer provides social commentary, writing that offers insight into society, its values, and its customs. During this time period, the top jobs that you want are to be in the clergy or work as a knight for the king.

7 Style of Writing He wrote in Middle English using the heroic couplet, a pair of rhyming lines with five stressed syllables (iambic pentameter) The Canterbury Tales is actually a story about stories, twenty- four different tales set within the overarching tale of the pilgrimage. Definition: Frame Story – a story within a story The Outer Frame Story is about the pilgrims meeting at the Tabard Inn preparing for a journey to Canterbury. The Inner Frame Story would be all the stories told by the assembled pilgrims along their journey to and from Canterbury.

8 More on His Style of Writing In the Prologue, Chaucer introduces each pilgrim, creating a sense of medieval life. Legend has it that Chaucer wrote about people he met in his travels! He wrote primarily in the style of Satire a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule. Like sarcasm... He says one thing, but means another.

9 Fun Facts! Written by Chaucer in his later years (1386); he never completed writing it; planned 120 tales but only completed 22 This is the best picture we have of 14 th century life in England Chaucer may have been inspired by his own pilgrimage to Canterbury!

10 How It All Goes Down The Canterbury Tales begins with a Prologue, Narrator, presumably Chaucer himself, meets 29 other pilgrims at the Tabard Inn, located in a suburb of London. As the pilgrims prepare for their journey, the host of the Inn, Harry Bailey, sets a challenge: Each pilgrim tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two stories on the return trip. The person who tells the best tale will be treated to a feast hosted by the other pilgrims.


12 An actual page from The Canterbury Tales


14 One Answer: Religion! The Canterbury Tales is about PILGRIMS travelling from London to the tomb of Thomas Becket in Canterbury. Canterbury has always been an important religious center in England. You could go there for help with medical, financial or other problems. Obviously, religion played an important part in medieval life. Because life was so terrible, the only thing people had to look forward to was dying and going to Heaven. Many sought guidance and paid homage to one man….

15 Thomas Beckett The King Henry II’s best friend & financial advisor - he was VERY powerful When the Archbishop (leader of the church in England) died, the King persuaded Becket to take over Becket took to it like a duck to water and gave up his luxurious lifestyle – only bread, water and he slept on the floor! But King Henry had an ulterior motive….

16 Keep Your Friends Close….. There were 2 courts in England: Church & Royal The Church court was too soft – he wanted Becket to toughen it up…BUT HE REFUSED. The King had such a temper he shouted that he wanted Becket dead!

17 …But Your Enemies Closer! 4 knights took him literally and went to Canterbury Cathedral where they stabbed him to death, on the ALTAR! The Pope made him a saint and people visited thinking it would bring them luck

18 Becket murdered at the altar.

19 The death of Becket angered the peasants who felt his Saxon heritage made him one of them.

20 Canterbury Cathedral became a site for pilgrims to offer prayers to St. Thomas.

21 Today, a modern cross made from swords marks the site of the martyrdom

22 What do all these photos have in common?

23 Pilgrims….Like Thanksgiving?! A Pilgrim is anyone who goes on a pilgrimage, a visit to a place of some significance; often religious and far away. a Muslim visiting Mecca a Jew visiting Jerusalem In the Middle Ages, pilgrimages were thought to clear your sins and earn you brownie points, as travel was dangerous and took ages. Canterbury, England The Vatican, Vatican City (Italy)

24 Yes, They Happen Today! Modern pilgrimages are to visit places of personal importance Elvis Presley fans visiting his home in Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee Musical Hero Ancestors/heritage Sporting Event Place of Interest







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