The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

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The Prologue to The
Canterbury Tales
The Knight
The Squire
The Yeoman
The Prioress
By
Geoffrey Chaucer
1340?-1400
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Narrator
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Narrator
•
Setting
– Spring
• Imagery
» “April”(1)
» “sweet showers”(1)
» “sweet breath”(5)
» “tender shoots”(7)
» “young sun”(7)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Narrator
• Pilgrimage Season
–Purpose
• Gain grace and salvation
• Religious
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Narrator
• The Pilgrimage
–Traveled to Canterbury
• See the “holy blissful martyr” (17)
–Thomas Becket
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Narrator
• Introduction of events/characters
– The narrator stays at an inn where he
meets twenty-nine people who are also
on the same pilgrimage
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Knight
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Knight
•
Characterization
– Diction
» “most distinguished man” (43)
» “chivalry” (45)
» “Truth, honour, generousness and
courtesy” (46)
» “noble graces” (50)
» “He was of sovereign value” (63)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Knight
• Purpose of Diction
–To demonstrate to the reader the
narrator’s opinion of the Knight
–The Knight is a respectable and
honorable character
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Knight
•
Clothing Imagery
– “not gaily dressed” (70)
– “fustian tunic” (71) (coarse
cloth of cotton and linen)
– “smudges” (72)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Knight
• Purpose of the Clothing Imagery
–Demonstrates that the Knight is a
humble and honorable man
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Knight
•
Purpose of the Knight’s Pilgrimage
–
“Just home from service, he had joined our
ranks/ To do his pilgrimage and render
thanks.” (73-74)
–
–
Returns from the Crusades alive
Wants to go to Canterbury to give thanks
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Squire
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Squire
•
Characterization
– Diction
» “a fine young Squire” (75)
» “A lover and cadet, a lad of fire” (76)
» “With locks as curly as if they had
been pressed” (77)
» “wonderful agility and strength” (80)
» “He’d seen some service with the
cavalry” (81)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Squire
– “And had done valiantly in little space/ Of time,
in hope to win his lady’s grace”(83-84)
– “embroidered like a meadow bright” (85)
– “And full of freshest flowers, red and white”
(86)
– “Singing he was, or fluting all the day” (87)
– “Short was his gown, the sleeves were long
and wide” (89)
– “He could make songs and poems and recite”
(91)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Squire
• Although the Squire is the son of the
Knight, he contrasts his father greatly
– The Knight is humble, while the Squire
dresses to please
– It seems the Knight’s focus is on the afterlife,
while the Squire’s focus is on earthly
possessions (religious life versus a secular
life)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Yeoman
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Yeoman
•
Characterization
– Diction
»
»
»
»
“at his side” (97)
“servant” (98)
“neatly sheathed” (101)
“arrows never drooped their feathers
low” (103)
» “A medal of St. Christopher he wore”
(111)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Yeoman
• Purpose of the Diction
– The Yeoman is similar to the Knight
– Nicely clothed yet still very humble and
loyal
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
•
Characterization
– Diction
• “And she spoke daintily in French,
extremely,/ After the school of Stratfordatte-Bowe;/ French in the Paris style she
did not know.” (122-124)
– Tries to speak French, but does not
have the correct “Paris” accent
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
“At meat her manners were well taught
withal;/ No morsel from her lips did she
let fall,/ Nor dipped her fingers in the
sauce too deep” (125-127)
• Refined table manners
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
“She certainly was very entertaining,/
Pleasant and friendly in her ways,
and straining/ To counterfeit a
courtly kind of grace,/ A stately
bearing fitting to her place” (135138)
» Counterfeit
» To imitate
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
– “She used to weep if she but saw
a mouse/ Caught in a trap, if it
were dead or bleeding.” (142-143)
» What would happen if the
mouse was not in a trap?
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
– “And she had little dogs she would
be feeding/ With roasted flesh, or
milk, or fine white bread.” (144145)
» Appropriate to serve the dogs
such good food when people
are hungry?
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
•
“She was all sentiment and tender heart.
Her veil was gathered in a seemly way,
Her nose was elegant, her eyes glassgrey;
Her mouth was very small, but soft and
red,
Her forehead, certainly, was fair of
spread,
Almost a span across the brows, I own”
(148-153)
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
• Simplicity of a nun, but yet a “seemly way”
to her appearance
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
• Purpose of the Diction
– More emphasis is place on the woman
than the nun
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
– Chaucer satirizes her in a gentle
way
» She tries to be courtly and
elegant, even though she is
supposed to be simple and plain
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
The Nun (Prioress)
– Our Reaction
» We laugh at her, but find
nothing fundamentally
wrong with her
Geschke/British Literature
The Canterbury Tales
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