The Canterbury Tales: Prologue Characterization

I will identify physical traits and mannerisms of each
character.
I will use characterization to analyze each character.




In the Prologue, he would introduce all the
characters, describing the physical details
and mannerisms of each of the 30 pilgrims.
On the way to Canterbury, each pilgrim would
tell two tales. (30x2=60 stories)
On way back to the Tabard Inn in London,
each character would tell two tales. (30x2=
another 60 stories)
Chaucer died before he completed his goals.
We are left with the prologue and about 20
tales.

In what time of year does the poem take place?

Give four signs of this season
◦
◦
◦
◦


What major religious holiday is in this season?
Why would this be a good time to go on a
pilgrimage? (several reasons)

In what time of year does the poem take place?
◦ Spring

Give four signs of this season
◦
◦
◦
◦

Sign
(you
(you
(you
of the Ram (Aries)
find)
find)
find)
What major religious holiday is in this season?
◦ Easter

Why would this be a good time to go on a
pilgrimage? (several reasons)
◦ Better weather, more food, religious renewal
Character
Physical Details
Mannerisms, behaviors
and Actions
Knight
Squire
Yeoman
Prioress
(nun)
(Continue as we read…)
Your
evaluation and
seven sins?
Physical Details
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
wears: worn armor,
stained tunic, modest
clothes, "not gaily"
dressed;
an older man
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
 chivalrous, a
gentleman, noble,
good soldier (fights
only religious battles),
a Crusader
Now, what is your evaluation of the
knight? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details


curly hair, 20 years
old, average height/
strength
wears: tunic
embroidered with
red/white flowers
(expensive)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
 soldier in training:
jousts and rides with
cavalry
 plays flute, dances,
reads and writes
poetry;
 He’s a "ladies man”
Now, what is your evaluation of the
squire? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details
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
wears: green hood and
tunic, arrows with
peacock feathers, bow,
sword, dirk, St.
Christopher’s medal
tanned face
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
 woodsman, hunter,
tracker; equipment
well cared for
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Yeoman? Does he fit a deadly sin?

What are the vows that most religious orders
take (i.e. what are they to give up? To what
do they devote themselves?)
◦ Vow of poverty (give up money)
◦ Vow of chastity (give up sex)
◦ Devote yourself to the needs of others (Christ-like)
◦ Live in the spiritual, not be “of the world”
Special for Monks
◦ Vow of silence (give up unnecessary/any talking)
◦ Live in a Cloister (monastery)
Physical Details
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
wears: coral bracelet, clean
clothes
delicate nose, glass-grey
eyes, small and red mouth,
wide forehead (sign of
beauty)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions



proper woman (almost
noble-like), good manners
(finishing school), speaks
French
loves animals, cares for
appearance
travels with another nun
and three priests
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Prioress? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details
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
wears: wealthy clothes: fur
trim on coat, clasp made of
gold
very fat, bald head "shiny"
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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
hunts for sport, living
worldly (not in monastery or
"cloister") has greyhounds
for hunting.
Hates: reading, being quiet,
being "cloistered, being
poor/wearing poor clothes
(all things a monk should
do)
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Monk? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details
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
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wears: robes are fancy like
doctor or pope
shaved head (bald on top
only)
shaped like a bell (fat,
excess material)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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

woos women then "gets
them married", greedy,
flatterer
goes only to taverns and
inns to do work (avoids
poor neighborhoods), likes
money
"player" or "pimp" (i.e. conartist)
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Friar? (would you travel with him, do
you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details
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


Forked beard
multi-colored “dress” (robe)
Beaver hat
Bucked boots
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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
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Gives his opinion
Expert in money/trade
Exchanges foreign currently
for profit (illegal)
He’s in debt
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Merchant? (would you travel with
him, do you like him? etc..) Does
he fit a deadly sin?
Physical Details


looks “unworldly”, wears
threadbare overcoat
horse is thin (ribs show),
he's thin (corpse-like) with
hollow cheeks, very skinny
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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

reads books and focuses on
studies
studies philosophy
earnest (frugal), straight
talking (to the point) and
doesn't gossip.
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Oxford Cleric? (would you travel
with him, do you like him? etc..)
Does he fit a deadly sin?
Physical Details


Homely parti-colored coat
Silk belt – pinstriped
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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Wary and wise
Travels as a judge
Specializes in conveyances
(deeds)
Never find a mistake in his
work
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Sergeant at the Law? (would you
travel with him, do you like him?
etc..) Does he fit a deadly sin?
Physical Details
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
old, grey beard, white skin
on neck, sanguine face
(cheerful);
wears: dagger, purse of
silk.
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions



liked worldly pleasures,
demanding
let people eat for free
(would fix feasts for them),
political - sheriff.
Well liked.
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Franklin? (would you travel with her,
do you like her? etc..) Does she fit
a deadly sin?
Physical Details


All dressed similarly (shows
belonging to guild)
Knives and purses
decorated with silver
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions




Belong to a guild
(organization like a union)
Haberdasher (hat maker),
carpenter, weaver, dyer and
tapestry maker
Nouveau rich (new rich)
Travel with wives
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Guild Members? (would you travel
with them, do you like them? etc..)
Do they fit a deadly sin?
Physical Details

Has ulcer (open infected
wound on knee)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions


Friends with guildsmen
Great chef; Can roast,
simmer, fry, boil and can
cook specialty dishes and
desserts.
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Cook? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details
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

Brown from sun (tan)
Dagger hanging from
lanyard
Burly (strong muscled)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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


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Now, what is your evaluation of the
Skipper? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
From Dartmouth
Eats a lot
Steals and drinks wine
Makes prisoners walk the
plank (“sends them home”)
Good navigator; reads stars,
has been all through many
seas and ports
Physical Details

blood-red garments (hides
blood stains) with bluegrey slashes (like on jerkin),
also has taffeta
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions



Now, what is your evaluation of the
doctor? (would you travel with her,
do you like her? etc..) Does she fit
a deadly sin?
greedy, likes gold best of
all
doesn’t' read Bible, uses
"modern" medicine
(horoscopes, four-humors,
etc) to diagnose patients
worked with apothecary
(druggist) to earn money
from prescriptions.
Physical Details
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
wears: new shoes,
handkerchiefs (so fancy
they look heavy), red hose
with garters, hat as large as
shield, richly dressed;
has gap in teeth (sign of
beauty/sexuality), large
hips, larger woman,
"handsome"
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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
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married 5 times
seamstress - sews and
embroiders
travels a lot (Jerusalem),
rides horse
likes to talk and give advice
on relationships
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Wife of Bath? (would you travel with
her, do you like her? etc..) Does
she fit a deadly sin?
Physical Details

carries a stave (staff)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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

Now, what is your evaluation of the
Parson? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?

diligent, holy man
collects money for poor and
gives to poor, dedicated to
his "flock” or congregation
(“shepherd” to men),
preaches word of God and
lives by it
will visit people no matter
the weather/distance/etc.
(Brother of the Plowman)
Physical Details
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
Wore tabard smock
Rode a mare
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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
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Brother of the Parson
Works on farm – honest,
hard worker
Follows simple virtues;
loves God and is good to
his neighbors
Helps those in need
Pays his tithes (church-tax)
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Plowman? (would you travel with
him, do you like him? etc..) Does
he fit a deadly sin?
Physical Details



Big-boned (muscular)
brawny; weighs 16 stone
(225 lbs)
Has broad red beard; has
hairy wart; Large mouth;
“ugly”
White coat, blue hood
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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

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Miller = grinds grain to
flour
Can yank door off hinges
with hands/butt with head
Tells dirty stories
Plays bagpipes
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Miller? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Physical Details
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(none)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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


Now, what is your evaluation of the
Manciple? (would you travel with
him, do you like him? etc..) Does
he fit a deadly sin?
Purchasing agent
Works for lawyers
Shrewd business man –
smarter than all of them
Made small fortune for
himself
Physical Details
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
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Skinny, close-cut beard,
hair cut strait around head
(bowl cut)
Rides grey horse
Rusty sword
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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

Now, what is your evaluation of the
Reeve? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Manages a large estate; in
charge of all animals
(sheep, cattle, swine,
horses, poultry)
Shrewd organizer and
manager of money
Bad-tempered
Physical Details
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
carbuncles (large pus filled
pimples), red face like
cherub, black scabby
brows, thin beard
Garland of flowers around
head
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions
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



Now, what is your evaluation of the
Summoner? (would you travel with
him, do you like him? etc..) Does
he fit a deadly sin?
“summons” people to court
drinks wine (often too
much) eats onions/garlic/
leeks (breath and skin
smell)
Children fear him, run away
Speaks Latin phrases to get
time to think (not bright),
blackmails people (keep
“concubines”) to get wine
Physical Details
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

yellow hair like wax, stringy
(like flax), ends like rattails
bulging eyeballs, no beard,
high voice
a eunuch (castrated man)
Now, what is your evaluation of the
Pardoner? (would you travel with
him, do you like him? etc..) Does
he fit a deadly sin?
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions


earns money by: forgiving
peoples sins (job)
selling "holy relics" (fakes!)
to other religious people,
singing; a fraud
Physical Details

(none)
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions



Now, what is your evaluation of the
Speaker? (would you travel with him,
do you like him? etc..) Does he fit a
deadly sin?
Narrator of poem
In intro, tells season
(spring) and benefits of
travelling.
At end, he apologizes for
how rude some of the
stories will be, but says he’s
just “quoting what they say”
(gives Chaucer license to
tell crude stories that may
upset people)
Physical Details


fat, bright and wide spaced
eyes
tactful, wise, a joker, good
natured
Mannerisms, Behaviors
and Actions



proposes contest: each
pilgrim (person) tells total
of four stories (2 on way
there, 2 on way back)
he'll judge winner, winner
gets meal (paid for by all
others - not host).
If drop out of contest, must
pay for everything.
(Just copy, no evaluation on this
character)
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