The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales
Overview
Main Charcteristics
symbols
Spring has come and with it an increase in pilgrims traveling to Canterbury. Gathering at an inn in Southwark, England, 30 pilgrims agree to a tale-telling Storyteller Win! competition for the long road. The Canterbury Tales showcases Chaucer's flair for satire and his ability to create memorable characters with unique voices that explore themes of rivalry; love, sex, and fellowship; social class; and storytelling.
Knight Pilgrim from the nobility
Harry Bailey Host, owner of Tabard Inn
Clerk Upper-class pilgrim
Chaucer Narrator and pilgrim
Pardoner pilgrim with loose morals
Parson Poor but virtuous pilgri
Wife of Bath Middle-class pilgrim
Miller Crsftsman prilgrim
Springtime
The Prologue begins with a famous description of springtime, symbolic of desire, fertility, and rebirth.
Blood
Blood is a metaphor for family lineage and class; it also signifies Christ's blood.
Clothing
Clothes, simple or elaborate, reflect the personality of the wearer
Themes
Rivalry
The pilgrims engage in a friendly competition to pass the long hours, and competitions figure in the stories.
Storytelling
The stories are as varied as the perspectives and voices of the storytellers.
Love, Sex & Fellowship
Human relations from lofty to lusty pervade the tales, told among friendly company.
Social Class
Each character represents a social class, and Chaucer makes fun of them all.
Numbering
65
Length, in miles, of the pilgrimage from the Tabard Inn to Canterbury Cathedral
10
Syllables in each line, using a pattern of five 2-syllable pairs in which the second syllable is stressed
31
People in the company: the narrator, 29 other pilgrims, and the Host
4
Tales each pilgrim is supposed to tell: two on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back
Author
GEOFFREY CHAUCER c.1343-1400
The poet was a diplomat who served three successive English kings. His wide travels in royal service introduced him to people from all social classes, informing his deeply humorous The Canterbury Tales; the 24 short tales rank among the greatest works of English literature.
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