Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
This becomes the launching point for their mile, four-day religious journey to the shrine of St. Great blessing and forgiveness were to be heaped upon those who made the pilgrimage; relics of the saint were enshrined there, and miracles had been reported by those who prayed before the shrine.
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 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 majority of the characters are drawn from the middle class. A small number of the peasant class are also making the journey, most of them as servants to other pilgrims.
As the travelers begin their journey the next morning, they draw straws to see who will tell the first tale. The Knight draws the shortest straw. He begins the storytelling with a long romantic epic about two brave young knights who both fall in love with the same woman and who spend years attempting to win her love.
Everyone enjoys the tale and they agree that the trip is off to an excellent start. When the Host invites the Monk to tell a story to match the Knight's, the Miller, who is drunk, becomes so rude and insistent that he be allowed to go next that the Host allows it.
The Miller's tale is indeed very funny, involving several tricks and a very dirty prank as a young wife conspires with her lover to make love to him right under her husband's nose.
The Miller's fabliau upsets the Reeve because it involves an aging carpenter being cuckolded by his young wife, and the Reeve himself is aging and was formerly a carpenter. Insulted by the Miller, the Reeve retaliates with a tale about a miller who is made a fool of in very much the same manner as the carpenter in the preceding rendition.
After the Reeve, the Cook speaks up and begins to tell another humorous adventure about a thieving, womanizing young apprentice. Chaucer did not finish writing this story; it stops almost at the beginning. When the dialogue among the travelers resumes, the morning is half gone and the Host, Harry Bailley, urges the Man of Law to begin his entry quickly.
Being a lawyer, the Man of Law is very long-winded and relates a very long story about the life of a noblewoman named Constance who suffers patiently and virtuouly through a great many terrible trials. In the end she is rewarded for her perseverence.
The Man of Law's recital, though lengthy, has pleased the other pilgrims very much.Assuming no previous linguistic knowledge, this book introduces students to Chaucer's language and the importance of reading Chaucer in the original, rather than modern translation.
The Canterbury Tales. The Canterbury Tales is a book written by 14th century poet Geoffrey Chaucer. The story, which was published almost 80 years after Chaucer. The first part of the Yeoman's tale is autobiographical: He explains that once he had good clothes and a comfortable living, that he and the Canon are alchemists, and that he is so in debt because their attempts at alchemy always fail.
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, published by Barron's Educational Series, uses an interlinear translation format in which each line of Middle English is followed by a modern translation (in a literal form to make the comparison easier).5/5.
May 09, · The Merchant. The Merchant with his forked beard is a representative of the rising middle classes. He is well dressed with fashionable motley colored clothes, stylish Flemish beaver hat and expensive boots.
The Canterbury Tales were published in , and the first known book edition that bundles them all dates back to This work, a collection of 24 stories, is considered the greatest work of Geoffrey Chaucer, an accomplished (middle) English poet and prose writer and one of the finest storytellers in the English language.