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GEOFFREY CHAUCER The Canterbury Tales EARLY LIFE 1342-1400 Born to a middle class family His father was a wine merchant who believed his child should have a formal ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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  • The Canterbury Tales

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  • 1342-1400
  • Born to a middle class family
  • His father was a wine merchant who believed his
    child should have a formal education
  • Odd jobs page, courtier, diplomat, civil
    servant, scrap metal collector
  • Travelled all over Europe

  • Fluent in English, Italian, Latin, and French
  • Worked as a government official under three
    different kings high social status
  • Was captured as a POW during the Hundred Years
    War ? King paid his ransom
  • Died of unknown causes murder suspected
  • Chaucer was one of the first writers to be buried
    in the Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.

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  • Often called the father of English poetry
  • Most scholars still wrote in Latin
  • Felt English lacked sophistication and had a
    limited vocabulary
  • Only local stories and ballads written in English
  • He wrote in the vernacular or language of the
    commoners ?Now known as Middle English
  • Allegory
  • A story win which the character, settings, and
    events stand for abstract or moral concepts.
  • It has a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning.
  • Popular in the Middle Ages.
  • Satire witty language used to convey insult
  • Rhythmic pattern
  • Lack of alliteration
  • Best known for writing The Canterbury Tales, but
    also had several other works as well

  • Although the work was never completed, The
    Canterbury Tales is considered one of the
    greatest works in the English language
  • The narrator meets 29 pilgrims at an inn and
    travels with them to the shrine of St. Thomas
    Becket in Canterbury. They decide to have a
    contest whoever can tell the best tale wins a
    dinner at the inn when they get back, courtesy of
    the other travelers.
  • Canterbury Tales can be considered estates
  • Three Estates in European feudal society
  • Peasants work (agricultural labor)
  • Clergy pray
  • Nobles fight (and rule)
  • Begun 1386
  • Planned 120 tales
  • Completed 22 and 2 fragments

The Story
  • Twenty nine people that represent all aspects of
    Medieval society go on a pilgrimage to the
    cathedral at Canterbury in southeast England.

  • The cathedral at Canterbury is the main cathedral
    of the Church of England. The shrine to the
    martyr Saint Thomas a Becket is located at this

  • Saint Thomas a Becket was the archbishop of
    Canterbury, and in 1170 he was martyred by some
    knights of the king of England, Henry II, who
    was overheard complaining about Beckets loyalty
    to the church at Rome over his loyalty to his

Some of the characters
  • The host of the tavern or innkeeper is the man
    who suggests that the pilgrims each tell a story
    on the way to entertain the group. Chaucer
    intended for each to tell 2 stories, but he only
    got to write one apiece.

  •         Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote  
                    When April with its
    sweet-smelling showers 2         The droghte of
    March hath perced to the roote,            
         Has pierced the drought of March to the
    root, 3         And bathed every veyne in swich
    licour                  And bathed every vein (of
    the plants) in such liquid 4         Of which
    vertu engendred is the flour                  By
    which power the flower is created 5         Whan
    Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth              
       When the West Wind also with its sweet
    breath, 6         Inspired hath in every holt and
    heeth                  In every wood and field
    has breathed life into 7         The tendre
    croppes, and the yonge sonne                  The
    tender new leaves, and the young sun 8        
    Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,          
           Has run half its course in Aries, 9      
      And smale foweles maken melodye,              
       And small fowls make melody, 10         That
    slepen al the nyght with open ye                
     Those that sleep all the night with open eyes 11
            (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),  
                   (So Nature incites them in their
    hearts), 12         Thanne longen folk to goon on
    pilgrimages,                  Then folk long to
    go on pilgrimages, 13         And palmeres for to
    seken straunge strondes,                  And
    professional pilgrims to seek foreign shores, 14
            To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry
    londes                  To distant shrines,
    known in various lands 15         And specially
    from every shires ende                  And
    specially from every shire's end 16         Of
    Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,              
       Of England to Canterbury they travel, 17      
      The hooly blisful martir for to seke,          
           To seek the holy blessed martyr, 18      
      That hem hath holpen whan that they were
    seeke.                  Who helped them when they
    were sick.

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  • Narrator (Chaucer)
  • Host
  • Knight
  • Squire
  • Yeoman
  • Prioress
  • Second Nun
  • The Nuns Priest
  • Monk
  • Friar
  • Merchant
  • Clerk
  • Man of Law
  • Franklin
  • Guildsmen
  • Cook
  • Shipman
  • Physician
  • Wife of Bath
  • Parson
  • Plowman
  • Manciple
  • Reeve
  • Miller
  • Summoner
  • Pardoner

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Things to consider
  • What estate is your character from?
  • How is your character described in the General
  • What is his or her occupation?
  • What happens in his or her tale?
  • What is important about the tale (think satire)?