Geoffrey Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer He is acclaimed not only as “the father of English poetry” but also the father of English.

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  • Geoffrey ChaucerandThe Canterbury Tales

  • Geoffrey ChaucerHe is acclaimed not only as the father of English poetry but also the father of English fiction.In short:He is considered the father of English literature.Chaucers name stands second only to that of Shakespeare.

  • Early LifeBorn c. 1340Son of a prosperous wine merchant (middle class)In mid teens, he was placed in the service of the Countess of Ulster so he could obtain more education and be schooled in court and society lifeLearned Latin, French and Italian equipping him for diplomatic and civil service as well as enabled him to translate literary works in all three languages

  • Early Life (cont.)In 1359 he was captured by the French at the siege of Reims during the Hundred Years' War while serving in English army; he was ransomed by King Edward III a year later showing he was a court favorite.Chaucer joined the royal household and became a trusted messenger and minor diplomat

  • As a Royal MessengerChaucer was frequently sent to the continent on secret business for the King.Some of these trips were to Italy where he became acquainted with the works of the greatest Italian authors of the early Renaissance period: Boccaccio, Dante, Petrarch

  • Other Jobs Chaucer Heldand Learned From...Controller of Customs on Wools, Skins and Hides for the Port of LondonHere he met many types of businessmen, sailors, travelers city folk and common laborers.Clerk of the Kings WorksWhile in charge of construction and repairs affecting the royal residences, he met many guildsmen as well as court officials.Deputy Forester of the Kings ForestsAway from the city, he met peasants, foresters, local clergy and other country folkRepresentative of the Shire of Kent in ParliamentHe met the rich, the influential and the upper middle class as well as the higher ranking church officials.

  • In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer wrote about the people he had met along the way. He wrote a prologue that described the people followed by a group of short stories told by them.

  • They could be described by:Their jobThe type and color of their clothingTheir accessories (jewelry, pets, other portables)The way they actTheir incomeTheir secretsTheir status in society as a wholeThe way they speak / their slang or accentTheir mode of transportation

  • London

  • But why go to Canterbury?

  • One Answer: ReligionCanterbury has always been an important religious center in England because it is the place of origin of the Catholic faith in England. St. Augustine (seen in stained glass from the Canterbury Cathedral) was sent here by Pope Gregory the Great to establish the Catholic faith in the country.

  • Why was religion important?Its the Middle AgesPlagueWarfareHigh Infant Mortality RateShort Life Expectancyand if you were a peasant, you lived your whole life in harsh conditionsAbout the best thing they had to look forward to was dying and going to heaven

  • Thus, heaven was often described as a white shining castle in the sky.

  • Huh.

  • Also, Canterbury was a Pilgrimage SitePeople of all classes went on pilgrimages to holy sites to seek miraculous cures, to find forgiveness for their sins, and to ask for help with finances or other problems. Canterbury was by far the most popular destination.

  • Also Canterbury is the site of The Shrine ofSt. Thomas Becket

  • Becket was a trusted adviser and friend of King Henry II. Henry named Becket Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • Beckets outspoken style angered the King. One day, Henry complained, Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest? Three knights rode to Canterbury where they found Becket at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral.

  • Becket was murdered at the altar.

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

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

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

  • Englands Norman rulers had introduced the French language to England, and it had displaced English for literary purposes, especially in the upper class. French was spoken in court circles and by the aristocracy.

    Latin was the language of the church. It was used in the monasteries and the centers of learning.

    Therefore, French and Latin were the languages of the educated.

    The fact that Chaucer chose to write in English (Middle English), rather than French or Latin like many of his fellow writers, meant that ordinary folk could enjoy The Canterbury Tales and their vivid characters, adding tremendously to the prestige of the English language.

  • The late fourteenth century world was still very much one of the spoken word. Books were copied by hand and were a rare luxury until the advent of the printing press 70 years later. The educated elite could read, but they preferred to hear texts read out loud for entertainment. The Canterbury Tales, with their earthy humor and vivid dialogue, were a runaway success.

  • The Frame StoryChaucer used the structure of the frame story or a story within a story. Chaucer as the NarratorAll of the tales told by each character

  • By using the device of a journey, he was able to naturally bring together a cross-section of medieval society:FeudalEcclesiastical (church)UrbanHis tone ranged from comic to ironic to satirical, but always friendly and warm-hearted.Although often considered the first short stories in English literature, they are written in poetical form rhymed pairs of five beat iambic lines, later termed the heroic couplet.

    There was a knight, a most distinguished man,

    Who from the day on which he first began

    To ride abroad had followed chivalry,

    Truth, honour, generousness and courtesy.

  • Chaucers Plan ...Start with a prologue followed by a series of stories linked by dialogues and commentariesEach character would tell 2 stories going and 2 stories returning to the Tabard Inn in Londonuh returning from WHERE?Canterbury, of course. After all, his work IS called : The Canterbury Tales

  • Chaucers Death Chaucer died before his plan was completed. Instead of the proposed 124 stories, he wrote only 24.He died in 1400 and was buried in Westminster Abby, the first poet to be buried in what has become known as Poets Corner.The Prologue is considered by historians to be our best picture of life in 14th century England.

  • So, lets travel back to London, to the area called Southward, and stop at the Tabard Inn.

  • Well meet the characters and hear their stories.

  • The story begins...

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