Chaucer "The Canterbury Tales".

Essay by adamleerusse January 2004

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Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales


Chaucer was born in London between 1340 and 1344, the son of John Chaucer, a vintner. In 1366 he had married Philippa Roet. The Canterbury Tales was his most popular piece of work, but sadly, he did not finish the tale before he died. The official date of Chaucer's death is Oct. 25, 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Canterbury tales

In the beauty of April, the Narrator and 29 oddly assorted travelers happen to meet at the Tabard Inn in Southward, London. This becomes the launching point for their 60-mile, four-day religious journey to the shrine of St. Thomas ... Becket at the Cathedral in Canterbury. Great blessing and forgiveness were to be heaped upon those who made the pilgrimage; relics of the saint were enshrined there, and those who prayed before the shrine had reported miracles. Chaucer's pilgrims, however, are not all traveling for religious reasons.

Many of them simply enjoy social contact or the adventure of travel.

As the travelers are becoming acquainted, their Host, the innkeeper Harry Bailley, decides to join them. He suggests that they pass the time along the way by telling stories. Each pilgrim is to tell four stories - two on the way to Canterbury, and two on the return trip - a total of 120 stories. He will furnish dinner at the end of the trip to the one who tells the best tale.

Chaucer, the Narrator, observes all of the characters as they are arriving and getting acquainted. He describes in detail most of the travelers which represent a cross-section of fourteenth-century English society. All levels are represented, beginning with the Knight who is the highest-ranking character socially. Several levels of holiness and authority in the clergy are among the pilgrims while the...