canterbury tales notes outline

The Canterbury Tales—Notes
The Canterbury Tales
A. Frame Tale- a story that provides a vehicle, or frame, for telling other stories
1. Pilgrimage: a trip made to a holy place for religious reasons or just for fun and
a. Shrine of Saint Thomas a Becket
i. Becket was appointed by Henry II as Archbishop of Canterbury and
became famous for his struggle to keep the English church free from
royal control
ii. In the 1600s, a series of conflicts ensued between Becket and Henry
II over Henry’s attempt to control the church
iii. After fleeing to France in 1164, Becket returned to England in 1170
and quickly revived his struggle with Henry
iv. In earshot of his knights, Henry questioned if there was anyone who
might get rid of Becket—four knights interpreted Henry’s words as a
request and went off to Canterbury to kill Becket while he was at
evening prayers
2. 29 pilgrims travel to Canterbury
a. Meet at an Inn
b. Host suggests they tell stories to pass the time
1. Chaucer’s pilgrims are well-rounded characters with personalities and
2. The pilgrims’ occupations reflect different aspects of 14th century
a. Feudal System
i. Knight, Squire, Yoeman, Franklin, Plowman, Miller,
b. Religious Life
i. Nun, Monk, Friar, Cleric, Parson, Summoner,
c. Trades or Professions
i. Merchant, Sergeant at the Law, Five tradesmen,
Cook, Skipper, Doctor, Wife of Bath, Manciple, Host
The Language of Chaucer
A The Canterbury Tales is considered Chaucer’s masterpiece
1. Chaucer was the first writer to use English in a major literary work
a. When he began writing there was very little skillful or accomplished English
literature- trial and error
2. He spoke in Middle English
a. Mixture of Old English (Anglo-Saxons) and Old French (Normans)
i. French took over English for literary purposes, especially in the
upper class
ii. By Chaucer’s day, English was coming back
b. Middle English differs from Modern English in the pronunciation of the
3. Other writers chose to write in either French (government) or Latin (church)
4. It gives a lifelike and engaging picture of a cross section of society during the 1300’s
5. Outstanding literary achievement
a. 17,000 vivid lines of vivid poetry
i. Rhyming couplets
Literary Terms to know
a. Fable: teaches by providing a moral at the end
b. Parable: a brief story that parallels a more general moral lesson
c. Exemplum: a specific example of a general rule. It is supposed to prove a point by showing
the truth of some moral rule
d. Verbal Irony: exists when the outcome of a situation is the opposite of what someone
e. Situational Irony- exists when the outcome of a situation is the opposite of what someone
f. Dramatic Irony-occurs when the audience or reader knows something that the characters do
not know