canterbury tales eng 273: world literature. history written by geoffrey chaucer (1343-1400)...

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Canterbury Tales

Canterbury TalesENG 273: World Literature

HistoryWritten by Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)Father of English Literature

Written in Middle EnglishEstablished Vernacular as a Legitimate Language for WritingPreviously Latin, French

Depicts Medieval English SocietySocial StratificationChristianityIncluding Corruption

CanterburyPilgrimage was very important during the Middle AgesRome, JerusalemDisplay of faith (and a vacation)

Canterbury was a popular destination for the English because it was nearby

The location includes a shrine to Saint Thomas Becket Archbishop of CanterburyMurdered in the cathedral in 1170 due to conflict with King Henry IICanonized as a Saint by the Pope

Three EstatesNobilityRepresented by the Military



The Canterbury Tales is an estates satireAttempts to highlight the negative aspects of the social system with humor

Changes in the English LanguageOld EnglishBeowulf

Middle EnglishThe Canterbury Tales

Elizabethan EnglishShakespeare

Modern English

Plot29 Pilgrims are on their way to Canterbury in April

The meet at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, England

The Narrator joins themHe describes each one

The Host suggests a storytelling contest on the way to and from CanterburyEach Pilgrim will tell two stories each wayThe winner would receive a meal paid for by the rest of the group when they get backThe Host agrees to go along to judge the contest

Plot ContinuedPrologueIntroduces the idea of the pilgrimageIntroduces the NarratorIntroduces each of the charactersIntroduces the storytelling contest

Individual StoriesPrologueGives more information about the characterStoryMany different forms, messages, etc.

There are 24 stories total the work is unfinished

CharactersNarrator (Chaucer?)Introduces the other characters in order of social status (Nobility, Clergy, Laborer)KnightHis Son the SquireYeomanPrioress (Madame Eglantine)Nun and PriestMonkFriar (Hubert)Friars are beggars

Characters ContinuedMerchantOxford StudentMan of LawFranklinFive GuildsmenHaberdasher, Carpenter, Weaver, Dyer, Tapestry-MakerCookSkipperPhysicianWife of Bath

Characters ContinuedParsonPlowman (Parsons Brother)MillerMancipleIn charge of the purchase and storage of food at places like universities or monasteriesReeveChief Magistrate in an areaSummonerDelivers charges to people who were accused of wrongdoing by the churchPardonerSells IndulgencesTavern Host (Harry Bailly)

Key ThemesSignificance of Courtly Love

Christian Ideals versus Worldly Values

Corruption in Christianity

Social Roles in Medieval England

Tension between how the character should fulfill his/her social role and how he/she behavesHow Physical Description Reveals Character Traits

Duty of Pilgrimage versus Pleasure of Story TellingDestination versus Journey


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