Canterbury Tales Prologue

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Canterbury Tales
Prologue
The character’s and their stereotypes:
revelations and perceptions*
Summaries borrowed from www.sparknotes.com
The Knight (lines 43-80)
 Noble in battle—enjoys
adventure
 The epitome of chivalry
 Strong and brave
(especially to have
survived so many
battles—15 plus jousts—
always killed his man)
 Wise
 Modest “a true and
perfect gentle knight”
 Has fine horses
 Dresses in natural
clothing with smudges
 Realistic/humanized
 Going on the Pilgrimage
to show thanks to God
for his talents
Chaucer/the narrator admires the
Knight despite the decline of
chivalry. Most of his battles are
religious leading us to believe he is
a crusader.
Gossip!
 You have 2 minutes to gossip with your
table mates about the traveler. Consider
discussing...




Your opinion of the traveler
If you would like to “get to know” them better
How you feel about them
Symbols that might represent them
 REMEMBER TO STAY IN CHARACTER!
The most interesting table conversation will receive a prize at
the end of our presentation time!
The Knight (lines 43-80)
 Noble in battle—enjoys
adventure
 The epitome of chivalry
 Strong and brave
(especially to have
survived so many
battles—15 plus jousts—
always killed his man)
 Wise
 Modest “a true and
perfect gentle knight”
 Has fine horses
 Dresses in natural
clothing with smudges
 Realistic/humanized
 Going on the Pilgrimage
to show thanks to God
for his talents
Chaucer/the narrator admires the
Knight despite the decline of
chivalry. Most of his battles are
religious leading us to believe he is
a crusader.
The Squire (lines 81-102)
 The Knight’s son—
youthful (20 years old);
“lover” and “cadet”
 Curly hair (as if pressed)
 Does everything with a
passion
 Destined to become just
like his father
 Suggests he’s a dandy—
concerned with his looks
 Served in the cavalry
and done valiantly
 Likes to sing and write
songs
Contrasts with his father—the religious
chivalric knight—the squire is very
“romantic.” His dress is fancy and
there is a lot of social desire. Always
out to win his lady’s favor in the
cavalry. Chaucer is accepting of the
squire, but not admiring. He has
growing up to do, but will make a good
knight
The Yeoman (lines103121)
 An attendant of the
Squire
 Dressed in green;
carries peacock
arrows and a bow
and wears a bracelet
to protect his arm; a
sword; a shield; and
a dagger
 Head like a nut
w/brown face
 A hunter and
woodworker—attends
the Squire but has his
own personality
 St. Christopher’s medal
 Patron Saint of Travelers
Chaucer looks at the Yeoman
positively and uses no irony
in the description; Suggests
that like the Knight and the
Squire, the Yeoman is a
worthy occupation
Prioress (Nun)—(lines122168)
 Eglentyen/sweetbriar
 Exceptionally mannerly
when eating
 Animal rights activist—
should be concerned with?
 Coral trinket on her arm,
green prayer beads, “Love
Conquers all” on her golden
brooch suggests…
 Rich tastes; worldliness
 PEOPLE!
 Sentimental and tender &
speaks elegant French
 Smile is “simple and coy”;
“elegant” nose; “glass gray
eyes,”; small, soft, red
mouth suggests…
 Perfect beauty
Irony of Chaucer: charity
should be for needy people,
but it is for animals; love is
very worldly rather than Amor
Dei, godly; expresses a desire
to show courtly manners,
rather than follow rules of
simplicity; expensive jewelry
suggests worldliness instead
of poverty.
The Monk (lines 169-211)
 A Manly Man, fat,
prominent eyeballs,
supple boots, not pale,
 Loves hunting & fine
food
 Bridle “jingles”;
garnished sleeves; fine
tunic; owns many horses
and greyhounds;
suggests…
 Wealth he should not
have
 Ignores the rules of the
monastery
The Monk it Chaucer’s prologue
is corrupt; Loves good food,
expensive clothing and hunting
violate the monastic views of
poverty and simplicity and
displays no guilt. Hunting was a
big no-no for Monks.
•Irony: “finest sort”, suitable to
be an abbot, agrees with point of
view, “fair prelaat”
The Friar (lines 212-279)
 Brother Hubert has a white
 Knows the taverns and the
neck
barmaids well suggests…
 Supports himself through
 Took confessions—and
begging—well rehearsed and
pardons them…for a
spoken
“gift”…suggests…
 He manipulates people’s
 Loved among the rich land
desire to be good
owners; Only deals with the
rich; avoids the poor beggars  Arbitrates disputes for a
fee
and lepers…suggests…
 He is corrupt and only cares about
worldly things
 Sings and plays hurdy-gurdy
and lisps to attract women
 Fixes up many young
women…after giving them
lovely gifts…suggests…
 He has seduced them first
Chaucer paints a picture of the
corrupt clergy
•Irony: “strong pillar of the church”,
calls him merry, sweet, pleasant and
worthy
Merchant (lines 280-294)
 Split beard, assorted
dress, Flemish
beaver hat, buckled
boots.
 An expert with
money and
exchanging money
 In debt but no one
knows because he
“cooks the books”
Representative of the
middle class; is in debt but
pretends not to be an hides
it cleverly; Chaucer says
he is a worthy man—
respects the middle class
despite the deception
The Oxford Cleric (lines
295-318)
 Still a student
 Thin horse; thin, hollow,
sober staring man;
thread bare coat
 Prefers books to clothes
 “philosopher’s stone”
reference—myth of
philosophy
 Formal and extremely
respectful—gladly learn
and teach
Idealized character- a serious
student who cars for little but
studying and is so poor he cant
even keep clothes on his back
or books on his tables; When
he speaks, he speaks with a
purpose and he always prays
for others. Forfeits worldly
pleasure for knowledge.
The Lawyer (lines 319341)
 Expert lawyer with
great import
 Offers himself as a
judge
 Discreet and
cautious
 Homely parti-colored
coat, girt with a
silken belt of pinstripe stuff
Irony: Chaucer makes a point to
comment on pretending as a part
of human nature and the Lawyer
believes he is much more
important than society really
views him.
The Franklin (lines 341379)
 Daisy white beard,
cheerful
 Always has food and
drink ready at his house
 Parliamentary
representative for the
country
 Had a dagger and a little
purse of silk—white as
morning milk
 Sheriff he checked every
entry
The Franklin as a social climber
and spends most of his time
pretending he is better than he
is. He is a hedonist (pleasure is
all important). He loves happy
people who will eat and drink
with him.
The Craftsmen (lines 371388)
 Carpenter, haberdasher,
dyer, weaver, tapestry
maker
 Dressed more mightily
than their rank suggests
 Wives follow behind with
and insist on being
called “Madam” while
their mantles are carried
like royalty
The craftsmen are treated as
a group and none is given of
single. Chaucer again is
making the point that people
like to pretend they are
better than they truly are and
he seems to satirize them
through their wives.
The Cook (lines 389-397)
 Good cook who
makes thick soup—
had an ulcer on his
knee (a crusty sore)
 Travels with the
guildsman
The Skipper (lines 498420)
 Very good at his job
 Rides well
 Wears a dagger on his
neck
 Tanned from the
summer heat
 Steals wine from the
captain while the captain
sleeps
 Owned the Maudelayne
The Doctor (lines 421-454)
 Talks really well about
medicine as related to
astronomy
 Practice magic and medicine
according to the stars
 Did not read the Bible but
knew all about Greek
mythology
 Wore blood-red garments
with bluish-gray lines
 Had a special love for gold
The doctor knew his art well,
which he used to his advantage
by making sure he could make
a profit by manipulating the
facts in cahoots with the
apothecaries. Suggests he is
very greedy, but is very
stereotypical of the doctors of
the time.
The Wife of Bath (lines
455-486)
 Somewhat deaf
 Makes wool
 Gets married a lot (5
times already)
 Wore scarlet red hose
and tight garter; bold,
handsome, red face with
a gap in her teeth
 Been on many
pilgrimages
 Knows everything about
love
Thinks of herself as the
best person and dresses
boldly. Gap toothed person
in the Middle Ages is very
lucky and travels far and
wide. She knows how to
enjoy herself and brags
about knowing the cure for
loves. Character appeals
for the liberation of
women—but she can be
offensive
Irony: “Amor Remedia”
rather than “Ars Amatoria”
(remedy over art)
The Parson (lines 487-438)
 Rich in spirit, but
monetarily poor
 Gives his own goods
to his people and
calls on people no
mater what
 Always fair and wise
 Always follows what
is right
Idealized figure: devoid of any
irony or satire. The most virtuous
of all the pilgrims but serves as a
criticism of the priests in the
Middle Ages. Opposed to
excommunicating poor
parishioners who could not pay
their tithes to the church and
sometimes gives his own money
to the poor even though he has
very little. Chaucer uses the
imagery of a shepherd tending
his flock because of his virtue. An
ideal stereotype of what
priesthood should be—contrast
to other religious figures
The Plowman ( lines 539555)
 The Parson’s
brother, works hard
and honestly for his
living
 Wears a tabard
(loose jacket) smock
and rode a mare
Idealized character—industrious
and a hard worker who lives in
peace and always helps out his
neighbors. He loves God and
always pays his tithes. Chaucer
admires his pride and is calling.
The Miller (lines 561-584)
 Robin weighs 224 lbs,
very strong and wins at
wrestling because he
broad, knotty and shortshouldered; can heave a
door off its hinges
 Wart on his nose; nostrils
were black and wide;
mouth like a furnace door
 Carries a sword and
buckler; wears a hood of
blue and a white coat and
plays bagpipes (Irish
descent)
Representation of a dishonest
man; he is a rich and makes as
much of his own profits as he can;
physical description is
representative of his personality:
shameless, wordy, quarrelsome,
deceitful and lecherous. He steals
grain and yet has a golden thumb
Irony: “golden thumb” increases
his own profits only
Manciple (lines 585-604)
 Buyer of provisions
for a college or court
 Watches the market
precisely
 Illiterate but outwits
the educated
As dishonest as the Miller and
always makes a profit on his
purchases
Irony: praise of financial
wisdom that enables him to
trick the wise of the country—
professional malpractice
The Reeve (lines 605-640)
 Oswald—slender and
choleric; closely shaven
beard; shorn hair
abruptly stops above his
ears; docked on top like
a priest; chicken legs;
 Wears an overcoat of
blue; has a rusty blade
at his side
 Manages the estates of
wealthy land owners
 Steals from the estate
 Learned carpentry
Choleric temper and slender
legs indicate a lecherous
character; inferior position
indicated by facial hair; he is
deceitful because he cheats his
lord and blackmails the others
in the county and everyone
fears him as a result. He is
richer than his lord and lends
him money.
The Summoner (lines 641688)
 Fire0red cherubinnish face with
pus-filled boils all over; has
narrow eyes and is lecherous;
black scabby brows and a thin
beard and his appearance scares
small kids
 Loves garlic, onions and leeks as
well as strong wine and only
speaks in Latin when he is drunk
 Blackmails everyone he can
 Wore garland on his head
 Allows sinners to keep mistresses
for a year in return for wine—likely
he commits the same sin
 illiterate
Responsible for summoning
sinners before the church courts
but Chaucer shows extreme
loathing for the character; grouped
with the pardoner—also hated by
Chaucer; physical deformities
represent an awful soul
Sarcasm: approval of the
summoner “friendlier rascal”
The Pardoner (lines 689734)
 Compared to
Summoner—together
they sing a song about
lustful love
 Has yellow waxy hair
hanging down on his
head thin like rat-tails;
has bulging eyeballs;
small voice like a goat;
no beard
 Wore a little cap
Personification of evil; sells holy
relics and favors to pardon people
form all their sins to ensure
purgatory; extorts money from
people by preaching against having
money; has repulsive physical
features; special skill is singing at
the offertory to extract money.
Sarcastic tone rather than subtle
irony
The Host (lines767-803)
 Harry Bailey is
friendly, agreeable,
and sensible
 very warm and inviting
 Offers the story telling
contest to the pilgrims
 Joins them on the
quest to serve as a
mediator
Chaucer
 Author and appears as a pilgrim through
the narrative
 Functions as a naïve narrator and the
guide on the way to Canterbury and we
learn about his society through the irony
and sarcasm he relates through the tales
and stories. His tone requires careful
reflection
Good Guys
 Knight
 Squire
 Yeoman
 Merchant
 Oxford Cleric
 Parson
 Plowman
 Host
Bad Guys
 Nun
 Monk
 Friar
 Lawyer
 Franklin
 Craftsmen
 Cook
 Skipper
 Doctor
 Wife of Bath
 Miller
 Manciple
 Reeve
 Summoner
 Pardoner
“The Ship of Fools”
Good Guys
 Knight
 Squire
 Yeoman
 Merchant
 Oxford Cleric
 Parson
 Plowman
 Host
Bad Guys
 Nun
 Monk
 Friar
 Lawyer
 Franklin
 Craftsmen
 Cook
 Skipper
 Doctor
 Wife of Bath
 Miller
 Manciple
 Reeve
 Summoner
 Pardoner
How can Chaucer’s
Pilgrims be seen as a
“ship of fools”?
Give examples.
Feudalism
Orare:
those who pray
Pugnare:
Those who fight
Labore:
Those who
work
Chaucer’s society
is…
How does this compare to our own?
Explain your response by using specific
comparisons between our stereotypes
and Chaucer’s
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