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Intro to Canterbury Tales and Chaucer


Intro to Canterbury Tales and Chaucer 12th Grade English CP – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Intro to Canterbury Tales and Chaucer

Intro to Canterbury Tales and Chaucer
  • 12th Grade English CP

The Life and Work of Chaucer
  • First name Geoffrey
  • Father of English Literature
  • Born between 1340 and 1345
  • Father, John, was a wealthy man
  • Middle-class
  • Lived in Vintry District of London
  • Went to St. Pauls Almonery School
  • Learned Latin, rhetoric, religion, philosophy,
    science, and French

Life continued
  • Went into military service in 1359
  • 1359 captured while serving in English Army in
    France Kind Edward paid 16 pound ransom
  • Married Philippa Pan in 1366
  • Lady-in-waiting to the queen

More Life
  • In 1372, he was sent on his first diplomatic
    mission to Italy.
  • In 1374, returned to England and was named
    Controller of Customs for the Port of London.
  • Served till 1386.
  • Buried at Westminster Abbey in Poets Corner

The Writer
  • Began writing in his 20s
  • Early poems based on other European works
  • This is a common trend (i.e. Shakespeare did
    this Macbeth was based upon a real stories in
    Holinsheds Chronicles)
  • Translated French poetry

  • 1st book, The Book of the Duchess, consoled John
    of Gaunt (his employer) on the death of his wife.
  • Completed around 1369

Written works
  • The Book of the Duchess
  • The Parliament of Fowls
  • The House of Tame
  • Troilus and Criseyde
  • The Legend of Good Women A Life of St. Cecelia
  • The Canterbury Tales

Historical Background
  • Set in 14th century London
  • Ruled by King and nobles who had all the
    political power and the Catholic Church had all
    authority in spiritual matters.
  • Rise in middle class because of trade and
  • Most of the population was agrarian, poor

Historical continued
  • Clergy became landowners.
  • Abuse and corruption began in the church.
  • The Plague wiped out 1/3 of the population.
  • 1381 Peasants Rebellion

History Continued
  • When The Canterbury Tales were written
  • Christianity was the dominant social force
    throughout western Europe, including England.
  • In 1388, while Chaucer was working on the tales,
    a change occurred in the way that Christianity
    was perceived and practiced when John Wycliffe,
    an English reformer,
  • released a version of the Bible translated into
    English. For the first time, people from the
    lower classes, who had not been educated in
    Latin, could read the Bible themselves instead of
    having its word interpreted to them by members of
    the clergy.

The Canterbury Tales
  • Began to write C.T. in 1387 A.D.
  • Chaucers view of life in the city of London
  • Many sources are quoted
  • Ovid, Vigil (Roman poets)
  • Augustine, Boethius (Roman statesmen,
    philosophers, and poets)
  • Descartes (French philosopher, mathematician, and
  • Dante and Petrarch (Italian poets)

The C.T. continued
  • Collection of short stories written in verse
  • Framed by a journey and told by travelers
  • Written in Middle English (uncommon at the time),
    not French or Latin.
  • Well-received
  • Inspiration not certain, but could have been his
    own pilgrimage to Canterbury.
  • His window overlooked the trail travelers took on
    this pilgrimage.

Canterbury Tales continued
  • The stories range in genres and forms
  • Only 24 of the proposed 120 were completed
  • Characters have depth
  • Created through
  • Physical description
  • Interactions
  • Their personal tales
  • A snapshot of medieval social life
  • combining elements of all classes, from nobles to
    workers, from priests and nuns to drunkards and

The Canterbury Pilgrimage Trail
Types of medieval literature
  • Romance a narrative in metrical verse tales of
    love, adventure, knightly combat, and ceremony.
  • Fabliau stories based on trickery and deception
    often involves adultery.
  • Myth a story originating in classical literature.

Types Continued
  • Breton Lais a type of fairy tale set in
    Brittany province of France contains fairies,
    elves, folk wisdom, and folktales.
  • Beast Fable animals personify human qualities
    and act out human situations usually teaches a
  • Sermon a Christian lesson

Types Continued
  • Exemplum a story which teaches a well-known
  • Allegory a tale in which a person represent
    abstract qualities (death, virtue, love)
  • Mock Romance parodies, or makes fun, of the
    usual subjects of a romance.