geoffrey chaucer. geoffrey chaucer geoffrey chaucer “father of all our poets; grandfather of all...
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GEOFFREY CHAUCER GEOFFREY CHAUCER father of all our poets;grandfather of all our hundred million novelists Biographer G. K. Chesterton 14th C. poet (probably born in the mid-1300s in London) Broadly educated, given a court appointment and traveled as a diplomat. Canterbury Tales: seminal work in English literature First recorded story in vernacular English that gave a detailed, lifelike picture of a variety of classes. Dared to feature commoners and offensive language and situations.(Previously, most literature featured epic heroes.) Structure of The CanterburyTales Canterbury Tales: Structure
Frame narrative A larger story frames the individual stories that each character tells. Many of the plots were re-tellings of plots that wouldve been passed along via oral tradition. Main characters belong to three distinct social groups in 14th C. England: Member of Feudal system (Knight, Squire, Miller) Members of Religious Life (Nun, Friar, Pardoner) Rising Middle Class (Merchant, Skipper, Sergeant, Cook) Class Upheaval in Chaucers England Historical Context: Class Upheaval
In 14th C. England, the old feudal system was unraveling. Previously, ruling classes held all power because they owned the land Black Death killed scores of agricultural workers Farmers and peasants empowered because now the few survivors were in high demand Advances in trade yielded a new middle class of merchants, traders, shopkeepers, boatmen, etc. Religious Upheaval in Chaucers England Historical Context: Religious Upheaval
Church was losing power at this time. Pope Clement V moved the seat of the Church to France (causing controversy in England) Literacy become more widespread so what was once the special skill of the clergy ability to read and write was now open to many more types of people. Also, clergy were no longer the only accountants around! With greater literacy came greater demand for more reading variety (not just religious or moral tales.) If this book was written in 14th C. England, why do we still read it? Canterbury Tales satisfied this new thirst in the 1300s for stories of life as its really lived by a range of people. AND BY DOING SO. . . Chaucer anticipated modern literature & media entertainment as we know it! (Think of how tv shows (for instance) involve characters across social spectrum, often behaving badly, but also learning important lessons too.) The Tales were revolutionary in offering literature that was BOTH entertaining and sharply critical. Set the stage for major concepts that inspire literature today: chivalric romance, bawdy comedy, cautionary tales, criticism of the powers-that-be, etc. Lets get oriented Time & place of Canterbury Tales: late 14th C. England A motley crew goes on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, England, to visit the Shrine of St. Thomas of Beckett. Pilgrimage: journey usually to a religious site of significance. The narrator meets the pilgrims at an Inncalled The Tabard (where the pilgrims stop along their way), which sets up the frame narrative. The majority of the book is made up of the individual stories told by each character en route to the shrine. About the Tales Various stories represent different genres (such as fabliau, chivalric romance, beast fable,and exemplum). The 29 pilgrims each tell their stories as they travel the ~60 mile journey to Canterbury. Originally planned to be 124 tales (each pilgrim tells two tales on the way to the shrine and two on the way back)But. Chaucer died after writing the 24th tale! Are you Ready to read 29 stories in Chaucers Middle English
Are you Ready to read 29 stories in Chaucers Middle English? Lets practice! Heres the good news Our study of The Canterbury Tales is meant to give you only a brief but meaningful introduction to this landmark work in English Literature. We will be focusing on 4 tales that represent the different genres & major themes of the book as a whole. The Knights Tale The Millers Tale The Wife of Baths Tale The Pardoners Tale The Prologue Lets start the book! Read the following excerpts from the Prologue:
Opening: (pg. 3-top of 4) The Knight (pg. 4-5) The Wife of Bath (pg. 15) The Miller (bottom of pg ) The Pardoner (p. 21-halfway down p. 22 Also, read p. 22 26 where the narrator describes meeting the pilgrims and announces the story-telling contest.