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1387 - 1400
A collection of 24 Middle English stories
Satire, Poetry, Fiction, Anthology
The Pardoner, The Wife of Bath, Troilus, The Miller, The Knight, The Narrator
It is believed that Geoffrey Chaucer has been influenced by the French style of syllable-counting for the heroic couplet writing style.
A pilgrimage, the journey of repentance, a rebirth, and the new start of life.
One of the most important aspects of the Canterbury Tales is that it is written in Middle English and not in French, which was the language common at the time. It has made it one of the most important works of medieval literature related to the 14th century CE. Considering the Norman Invasion, Chaucer's work is a great cultural and linguistic literary heritage.
The Canterbury Tales contain the stories that are revolving around the 29 pilgrims as they make their journey from London to Saint Thomas Becket's shrine in Canterbury. While the tales are different, Chaucer is keeping high morals and heroism. It deals with love that remains the same, talks about the lust that gets a person in trouble, religious challenges, and the ways how honesty and honor are valued.
The most important aspect of the Canterbury Tales is the high morals. A good example is the wife of Bath, which speaks of women's striving for dominance over men and the fact that providing women with dominance over men is not that bad after all. This way each story reflects an idea of living a different, more pure life. It also tells about how does the canterbury tales relate to modern society since we also talk about high morals, sincerity, and our inner pilgrimage to become a better person. It is the main importance of these tales.
If we do not count The Canterbury Tales as one of the most important English written literary works, it is often used as the allegory type essay where the college students can take at least one story to talk about love, honor, courage, fear, religion, and many other topics. It can be compared to the modern society where people want to achieve self-identity and become a different person.
One should see the most famous quote spoken by the Pardoner, which is "preaching against what I practice". The Pardoner is the reflection of hypocrisy. A great example is attacking the greed during the sermons and then asking people to give up their gold, so they could finally repent from their greed.
c. 1400, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The tales (mostly written in verse, although some are in prose) are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.
The Canterbury Tales consists of the General Prologue, The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale, The Reeve’s Tale, The Cook’s Tale, The Man of Law’s Tale, The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Friar’s Tale, The Summoner’s Tale, The Clerk’s Tale, The Merchant’s Tale, The Squire’s Tale, The Franklin’s Tale, The Second Nun’s Tale, The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, The Physician’s Tale, The Pardoner’s Tale, The Shipman’s Tale, The Prioress’s Tale, The Tale of Sir Thopas, The Tale of Melibeus, The Monk’s Tale, The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, The Manciple’s Tale, and The Parson’s Tale, and ends with “Chaucer’s Retraction.”
Social satire is the major theme of The Canterbury Tales. The medieval society was set on three foundations: the nobility, the church, and the peasantry. Chaucer's satire targets all segments of the medieval social issues, human immorality, and depraved heart.
Narrator, Host, Knight, Squire, Prioress, Second nun, Nun's priests, Monk, Friar, Merchant, Clerk, Man of law, Franklin, Cook, Shipman, Physician, Parson, Wife of Bath, Miller, Manciple, Reeve, Summoner, Pardoner, Canon
Probably influenced by French syllable-counting in versification, Chaucer developed for The Canterbury Tales a line of 10 syllables with alternating accent and regular end rhyme — an ancestor of the heroic couplet. The stories and links together offer complex depictions of the pilgrims, while, at the same time, the tales present remarkable examples of short narratives in verse, plus two expositions in prose.
It has been suggested that the greatest contribution of The Canterbury Tales to English literature was the popularisation of the English vernacular in mainstream literature, as opposed to French, Italian or Latin. Although perhaps incomplete, The Canterbury Tales is revered as one of the most important works in English literature.
“People can die of mere imagination.”
“If gold rusts, what then can iron do?”
“No empty handed man can lure a bird.”
“Youth may outrun the old, but not outwit.”
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