Geoffrey Chaucer (1340/1343— 1400) “The Father of English Literature”

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Geoffrey Chaucer (1340/13431400)

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340/13431400)

The Father of English LiteratureBiographical BackgroundChaucer was born in London to a well-off family with royal connections. Chaucers parents placed him in the household (and service) of Prince Lionel, King Edward IIIs son. This opportunity enabled Chaucer to be educated and taught the customs of the upper-class. It also introduced him to famous people including John of Gaunt (younger brother of Prince Lionel) who became Chaucers life-long patron (financial supporter).

Odd jobsOutside of writing, Chaucer was a diplomat for the King. He served in the army (most famously the One Hundred Year War between France and England); he was comptroller of customs at the Port of London, Justice of the Peace at Kent, member of Parliament, and he was a knight. Writing was a side job.

Personal LifeChaucer married Philippa Roeta sister to the wife of John of Gauntin 1365/1366. She died in 1387. Shortly after her death, Chaucer began writing his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales.

What are The Canterbury Tales ?The Canterbury Tales is the story of 30 pilgrims (people who go on a pilgrimage to a religious or historically significant place) who travel to Canterbury Cathedral to St. Thomas Beckets tomb and shrine. On the way, they stop for dinner at an inn. The innkeeper challenges them to a tell stories along the way, and the winner of the best story will receive a free dinner.Canterbury Cathedral

Who was Thomas Becket? Thomas Becket was appointed to assistant to Archbishop of Canterbury. With this move, he befriended King Henry II.Becket was soon appointed to replace the Archbishop of Canterbury by Henry II even though the title Archbishop was generally held for a monk.As soon as Becket became Archbishop, he began opposing Henry IIs rights to the Church.In response, Henry II issued the Constitution of Claredon, which required each bishop to swear an oath of allegiance to Henry II.Thomas Becket refused and fled to France.Who was Thomas Becket? Martyr

What happened next?Henry II appointed someone else as Archbishop to lead a coronation ceremony for his son, Henry III.Frances Louis VII and the Pope encouraged Henry II and Becket to make amends.Henry II invited Becket to re-coronate his son; however, before the ceremony, Becket fired the new Archbishop and two other bishops.While praying in the church, Becket was killed by Henry IIs order.8How is Frame Narrative Used?There are 20 speakers, and the Host challenges them to tell one story on the way, and one story on the way home, so a total of 40 stories.

Just 24 stories into the book, sadly, Chaucer died before finishing, and the pilgrims never reach Canterbury, nor do anyone know the winner of the dinner.

Literary devices used in The Canterbury Tales:

Frame narrative- a story within a storyStory 1: 30 people travel to Canterbury to St. Thomas Beckets tomb. They are in a contest. Story 2: the actual, individual stories told on the roadIambic pentameter: The word "iambic" describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word "pentameter" indicates that a line has five of these "feet".Symbolism, Irony, Figurative Language, Imagery, and Characterization.

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