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The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400)


The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) by Geoffrey Chaucer Introduction of Geoffrey Chaucer Introduction of the Canterbury Tales Analysis of this work Contribution by the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400)

The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400)
  • by Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Introduction of Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Introduction of the Canterbury Tales
  • Analysis of this work
  • Contribution by the author

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400)
  • An English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat,
    courtier and diploma
  • One of the greatest narrative poet of English
  • Father of the English poetry, who made a crucial
    contribution to English literature in using
    English at a time when much court poetry was
    still written in Anglo-Norman or Latin.

Course of Chaucers Life
  • In 1357, he served as a page to Elizabeth,
    Countess of Ulster, from which he learned the
    ways of court and the use of arms.
  • In 13591360 he was with the army of Edward III
    in France, where he was captured by the French
    but ransomed.
  • In 1373 Chaucer traveled to Picardy as part of a
    military expedition, and visited Genoa and

  • In 1378, Richard II sent Chaucer as an envoy
    dispatch to the Visconti and to Sir John
    Hawkwood, English condottiere in Milan.
  • From 1374 on he held a number of official
    positions, among them comptroller of customs on
    furs, skins, and hides for the port of London
    (13741386) and clerk of the king's works
  • Chaucer dead on Oct. 25, 1400. He was buried in
    Westminster Abbey (an honor for a commoner), in
    what has since become the Poets' Corner.

  • The first period includes his early work (to
    1370), which is based largely on French models.
  • The second period (up to c.1387) is called his
    Italian period.
  • The final period, in which he achieved his
    fullest artistic power, belongs his masterpiece,
    The Canterbury Tales (written mostly after 1387).

His Works
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • Book of the Duchess
  • The House of Fame
  • The Parliament of Fowles
  • The Legend of Good Women
  • Troilus and Criseyde

The Canterbury Tales -----one of the most famous
works in all literature----
General Prologue(??)?
----outline of the story
  • on a spring evening, the poet drops in the Tabard
    Inn(, where he meets 29 other pilgrimsall ready
    for a journey of 60 miles to Canterbury.
  • Because of the long and tedious journey, the
    host of the Inn suggests that they should color
    the journey by telling stories. And the best
    story-teller should be treated with a fine meal
    at the cost of all the rest.
  • The pilgrims are 30 in all including the
    poet. Therefore according to the plan, there
    should have been 120 stories altogether. But only
    24 tales were written due to the authors death
    in 1400.

General Prologue(??)?
  • However, incomplete as these stories
    are, they cover practically the whole major
    literary genres in medieval Europe,such as
  • chivalric,
  • folk tales,
  • legends,
  • legendary epic sagas,
  • beast fables,
  • mythology,
  • moral allegories, etc.

Function of General Prologue
  • 1. Present a vivid collection of character
  • 2. Reveal the author s intention in bringing
    together a great variety of people and narrative
    material together.
  • 3. Set the tone for the story-telling
  • grateful acceptance of life
  • make clear the plan for the tales
  • motivate the telling of several tales
  • introduce the pilgrims , the time and occasion of
    the pilgrimage(??).

Features of The Canterbury Tales
  • It covers a wide range of characters
    from top to bottom in the England of that time.
  • For example
  • The gentle class
  • knight
  • squire
  • monk
  • prioress(??????)
  • franklins(?????)
  • The burgher class
  • merchant
  • haberdasher
  • carpenter
  • weaver(???)
  • tapestry-maker(?????)
  • .

Analysis of This Work
  • Sources
  • Genre and structure
  • Style Historical context and themes
  • Religion
  • Social class and convention
  • Stage and film adaptations
  • Influence

  • No other work prior to Chaucer's is known
    to have set a collection of tales within the
    framework of pilgrims on a pilgrimage.However,Chau
    cer borrowed portions of his stories from earlier
    stories and that his work was influenced by the
    general state of the literary world in which he
    lived. Storytelling was the main entertainment in
    England at the time, and storytelling contests
    had been around for hundreds of years. The winner
    received a crown and, as with the winner of the
    Canterbury Tales, a free dinner.

Genre and Structure
  • Canterbury Tales falls into the same category or
    genre as many other works of its day as a
    collection of stories organized into a frame
    narrative or frame tale. Chaucer's Tales differed
    from other stories in this genre chiefly in its
    intense variation. Most story collections focused
    on a theme, usually a religious one. Even in the
    Decameron, storytellers are encouraged to stick
    to the theme decided on for the day. The idea of
    a pilgrimage appears to have been a useful device
    to get such a diverse collection of people
    together for literary purposes, and was also

Style Historical context and themes
  • The time of the writing of The Canterbury Tales
    was a turbulent time in English history. The
    Catholic Church was in the midst of the Great
    Schism and, though it was still the only
    Christian authority in Europe, was the subject of
    heavy controversy. An early English religious
    movement led by John, is mentioned in the Tales,
    as is a specific incident involving pardoners
    (who gathered money in exchange for absolution
    from sin) who claimed to be collecting for
    hospital in England. The Canterbury Tales is
    among the first English literary works to mention
    paper, a relatively new invention which allowed
    dissemination of the written word never before
    seen in England.

Style Religion
  • The Tales reflect all kinds of religious world of
    Chaucer's time. After the Black Death, many
    Europeans had begun to question the authority of
    the Catholic Church in various ways. Some chose
    less extreme paths, starting new monastic orders
    or smaller movements exposing church corruption
    in the behavior of the clergy, false church
    relics or sale of indulgences (payment for
    forgiveness of sins).Several characters in the
    Tales are religious figures, and the very nature
    of the pilgrimage to Canterbury is deeply
    religious, making this a outstanding theme of the

Style Social class and convention
  • The Tales constantly reflect the conflict between
    classes. Most of the tales are interlinked by
    common themes, and some "quit" (reply to or
    retaliate against) other tales. Convention is
    followed when the Knight begins the game with a
    tale, as he represents the highest social class
    in the group. But when he is followed by the
    Miller, who represents a lower class, it sets the
    stage for the Tales to reflect both a respect for
    and a disregard for upper class rules.

Stage and film adaptations
  • A Canterbury Tale, a 1944 film jointly written
    and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric
    Pressburger, is loosely based on the narrative
    frame of Chaucer's tales. The movie opens with a
    group of medieval pilgrims journeying through the
    Kentish countryside as a narrator speaks the
    opening lines of the General Prologue.

The social significance
  • Chaucer gives us a true-to-life picture of
    the society of his time. He affirms man and
    opposes the dogma of asceticism preached by the
  • As a forerunner of humanism, he praises
    mans energy, intellect, wit and love of life.
    His tales expose and satirize the evils of his

Contribution by the author
  • Chaucers poetry is plainly narrative .
    Everything is based on reality .Chaucers
    language ,now called Middle English ,is vivid and
    exact . He is a master of word pictures. His
    verse is among the smoothest in English . Hardly
    a single word will offer difficulties to a man of
    sufficient reading in modern English . Repetition
    with variation is redundant .

  • Chaucers contribution to English poetry lies
    chiefly to the fact that he introduced from
    France the rhymed stanzas of various types,
    especially the rhymed couplet of iambic
    pentameter (to be called later the heroic
    couplet) to English poetry , instead of the old
    Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse.
  • .

  • He is the first great poet who wrote in current
    English language . Chaucer did much in making the
    dialect of London the foundation for modern
    English speech. His various writing style
    reflected the life of different social classes .
    He create the realism tradition of English
    literature ,which influenced Shakespeare and
    Dickens a lot.