Answer Key Character List from The Prologue of The Canterbury Tales

Answer Key
Character List from The Prologue of The Canterbury Tales:
Directions: For each character, make sure you have a physical description (what they look like) and a
personality description (how they act, talk, characteristics or traits). Be sure to tell what their profession
is, too!
1. The Knight
a. Profession: knight
b. Description: Had many horses, but didn’t dress like he was rich, wore plain clothes (coarse
linen/cotton tunic) stained from his armor
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: : distinguished, followed chivalry, truthful, honorable,
generous, courteous, done well in battle fought for his king, Crusader, well known and
honored, 15 ‘mortal’ battles, jousted 3x’s and killed his opponent, wise, modest (didn’t
brag), never foul-mouthed (boorish), true-perfect knight, on the trip to pay his thanks to
The Squire
a. Profession: servant and son of the knight/ knight in training
b. Description: curly red hair, 20 yrs.old, moderate height, wore bright green embroidered
tunic- had red & white flowers on it, tunic was short with long wide sleeves
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: : lover, cadet (soldier), agile and strong, fought well in the
few battles he had fought, knight in training, could ride a horse, was educated- could write
songs & read and write poetry, could joust, “Loved so hotly that til dawn grew pale he slept
as little as a nightingale”, was courteous and respectful
3. The Yeoman
a. Profession: forester and carpenter
b. Description: coat and hood of green, peacock feather arrows, neatly kept(sheathed) on his
belt, carried a large bow, head shaped like a nut, brown (tan), wore a brace on his arm for
hunting, carried a shield & sword hung on his side, carried a sharpened long dagger (dirk),
wore a silver St. Christopher’s medal, wore a hunting horn-kept clean, wore a bright green
baldrick or belt used to carry a sword over the shoulder
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: carpenter and forester, didn’t have a servant so rode his
A Nun (a Prioress) called Madam Eglantyne (the name of a rose and the name of several
romantic heroines)
a. Profession: Prioress who runs a convent
b. Description: she wore a hat & veil, elegant nose, grey eyes, small mouth that was soft &
red, 9” forehead, large, wore a cloak , wore a coral bracelet, wore rosary beads that were
green, and on them hung a huge brooch engraved with an “A” and the saying “love
conquers all” underneath, she was a romantic
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: : appeared to be very simple and coy, would exclaim “By
St. Loy” who is the patron saint of manners, sang through her nose, spoke French but a
‘low’ French learned in London not France, she was taught manners, especially concerning
food, yet didn’t really show them- never let food fall from her mouth, dipped her food in
sauce-her fingers only went in a little, would eat every bite, would wipe off any speck of
grease (not even on her cup), would always reach daintily for the meat, very pleasant,
entertaining, friendly, yet very fake in appearance- tried to act as if she knew how to fit in
with the rich and well bred, faked her emotions/sympathies e.g. if she saw a mouse in a trap
but didn’t hesitate to feed her dogs roasted flesh, milk and bread and would cry if one died
or was beaten- she APPEARED to be all sentiment and ‘tender heart’,
A Monk
a. Profession: Prior (leader) of his cell Benedict Order which is very strict
b. Description: his robe’s sleeves were trimmed in gray fur, his hood was fastened with a gold
lover’s know pin, head was bald and shiny, his face shone (greasy), was fat and personable,
eyes were ‘prominent’, always moving/shifting and bright, supple(soft leather) boots,
healthy horse, tan, , his horse was brownish-red,.
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: hunter, manly-man, rode a horse, owned many horses,
his bridle was adorned with bells, ignored the ‘old’ ways of the order; believed more in the
modern ways, didn’t believe that holy men could not be hunters and that monks
could/should travel beyond his order and not study day in and day out being cooped up
(narrator agrees with him), he did NOT agree, however, that monks should do hard labor,
was a good horseman, had several greyhounds to chase game, spared no expense for
hunting, loved to eat especially whole roasted swan
A Friar (Hubert)
a. Profession: priest of an assigned district or area
b. Description: happy/jolly/merry, was a ‘sweet talker’, counseled or fixed many young
marriages, well loved by his parishioners, and by ‘city dames’ of wealth, qualified to hear
confessions or so he said that he had permission from the pope, he would grant absolution
for a gift, and his penance was always very easy as long as he was paid well, the larger the
gift the more sins were forgiven AND if you gave a big enough gift then he knew that the
sinner was sincere, he kept his hood or sleeves stuffed with small gifts for the young
women (hair pins and small pocket-knives) , had a sweet voice and played a hurdy-gurdy,
was a drinker, preferred the taverns over working with the poor, lepers or beggars,
preferred the rich and merchants- anywhere money could be gained, he was good at what
he did- so good that no one dared enter his district/encroach in his area, he could get
money from even the poorest soul, would also settle disputes for a fee (whoever was willing
to pay him more won the dispute),
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: neck was lily-white and strong/thick, his cape/coat was
made of fine material, shaped like a bell (big belly), lisped to act higher class then he was,
eyes shone & twinkled when he sang
A Merchant:
a. Profession: bought and sold items
b. Description: forked beard, multicolored tunic, rode a horse, wore a Flemish
(Belgium)beaver hat, buckled boots,
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: talked constantly of how to earn money YET his secret
was that he was in debt, was still a nice man even though he pretended to be better off than
he was
An Oxford Cleric:
a. Profession: a student
b. Description: rode a VERY THIN horse, he was also very thin, hollow look and sober stare,
clothing was very worn (threadbare)
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: couldn’t find any particular interest in the church,
preferred having books to clothing, or musical instruments, preferred books on philosophy
and alchemy (science), borrowed money from his friends to buy more books, returned the
favor by praying for them, only cared about learning/study, his speech was always respectful
and formal, didn’t just chat-only said what he needed to- short and to the point
A Sergeant of the Law
a. Profession: lawyer, judge, conveyance (drew up deeds)
b. Description: wore a homely multicolored coat with a pinstriped silk belt
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: wary & wise, discreet, revered/respected, honorable,
educated, well known, made very careful decisions, knew the law inside and out even going
back 300 years, wrote lengthy deeds/scripts (very verbose)
10. A Franklin
a. Profession: Sometimes Judge, member of Parliament, sheriff/auditor
b. Description: white beard, sanguine (ruddy) complexion,, wore a dagger and a small silk
purse on his belt that was pure white, most likely not thin
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: kind, loved cake & wine for breakfast, loved to enjoy
himself/life (Epicurus’ son) –pleasure seeker, very hospitable,- opened his home to
everyone, always had the finest of food and drink, lines 354 – 356 “…and all the dainties a
man could think”, food would change depending on the season, his table was always set for
guests any time of day, wealthy land owner (had a pond and bird coops and servants)
11, 12, 13, 14, 15. A Haberdasher, a Dyer, a Carpenter, a Weaver and a Carpet-Maker
a. Profession: Seller of men’s clothing & accessories, all tradesmen
b. Description: all were trim & fresh(clean and neat), clothing isn’t new but could pass for it,
knives were pure silver (but not fancy or gilded) worn on belts & with pouches that were
adorned in silver also
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: guild/fraternity/ 1st union, each seemed a ‘worthy
citizen’, each could have been an alderman since they had enough capital and money, AND
their wives said they should be, their wives hen-pecked them; almost shaming them if they
did not want to be alderman- calling them a ‘woman’- having their coats/mantles carried for
them in church like a queen.
16. A Cook:
a. Profession: cook
b. Description: had a HUGE open ulcer on his kneec. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: excellent cook, could flavor using the best spices, could
distinguish different foods & ales (discernible palate), could roast, seethe, broil, bake, fry,
make soups and pies, blancmanage was his specialty (“white food”),
17. A Skipper:
a. Profession: captain of a cargo ship
b. Description: came from Dartmouth (in the west), rode a farmer’s horse- wasn’t a great
horse and could barely ride it, wore a long wool tunic, a dagger hung from a lanyard around
his neck and arm, was tan, hardy, had a full beard
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: , good man (‘excellent fellow’), stole wine from the
traders as they slept- probably after ‘tasting’ all the wines together, never really bothered
him that he stole wine that way, when he fought- he made all the prisoners walk the plank –
‘sent them home’, knew EVRYTHING there was about the seas, waters and tides, , very
prudent or wise, knew all the places it was safe to dock or wait out a storm, his ship was
called the Maudelayne.
18. A Doctor:
a. Profession: doctor and pharmacist
b. Descriptionwore blood-red clothes-slashed with bluish gray and inside lined with taffeta
(silky material),
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: : knew much about medicaine and surgery and liked to
talk about it, based his diagnosis’ on the stars (astronomy and astrology), could tell you the
cause of any illness and would give the remedy right away so the patient would go to HIS
pharmacist (apothecary) who always had the medicine ready- would get a kick back from
the pharmacist who would charge the patient a high price, had been doing this for a while,
well versed in mythology and philosophy, he was very STRICT about his own diet- only
eating what was necessary, nothing for pleasure, did not read the bible so not very religious,
didn’t spend a lot of money on other things, kept his gold (possibly in a pouch close to his
19. A Woman from Bath:
a. Profession: professional wife/widow
b. Description: somewhat deaf, kerchiefs were made of fine cloth and very heavy, wore red
hose that were tightly gartered, new shoes made of soft leather, her face was ‘bold and
handsome’ and red in color, had wide gap teeth, was well covered from her head and neck,
wore a hat as big as a shield, wore a large coat (mantle) to cover her large hips,
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: excellent seamstress/tailor, considered herself very
important and could hold a grudge if ‘crossed’, was married 5 times but had many lovers in
her youth, travelled extensively, comfortable on an ‘ambling’ horse, loved to laugh and flirt,
knew all the ‘remedies for love’s mischances’ …could it mean how to take care of cheating
husbands? 
20. A Parson:
a. Profession: preacher/priest
b. Description: (none)
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: poor, modest, truly loved his people (dedicated), was
educated, took ‘shots’ at the monk, nun and friar, not only did he preach the bible but
followed it as well.
21. A Plowman:
a. Profession: brother to the parson
b. Description: wore a short jacket (tabard smock) and rode a mare,
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: followed the bible, helped his neighbors, paid his tithes
included all his earnings and holdings.
22. A Miller:
a. Profession: ground grains
b. Description: 224 lbs., big and brawny, strong, short knotty neck, red broad beard, wart with
hair on it at the end of his nose, wore a sword, large mouth, wore white coat with a blue
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: could wrestle rams, break down a door w/his head or lift
it off its hinges, told bawdy stories, put his thumb on the scales to steal the money, played
the bag pipes, head of the line of travelers.
23. A Maniciple:
a. Profession: law clerk, paralegal
b. Description:
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: is illiterate but has common sense, is street sense,
worked for 30 lawyers, was frugal, lived debt-free, could make fun of or fool his bosses but
chose not to.
24. A Reeve:
a. Profession: Forman
b. Description: old, choleric (yellowed)- meaning bad tempered, cleanly shaven, hair was cut
to right above his ears (very short or shorn), bald on top, lean, stick-like legs
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: kept his granaries very orderly and neat- always
measured properly, could tell the crops/yields by the weather (common sense),
tended/knew animals well, was trusted by auditors-no one ever caught him cheating, was
mean tempered and no one liked him or crossed him (employees or workers), stole from his
boss then let his boss ‘borrow’ from him- took great pleasure in it, was a carpenter, rode a
horse named Scot, was LAST in the group.
25. A Summoner:
a. Profession: to track down people who broke the church law and take them to the
Archdeacon for punishment.
b. Description: red face from all the pimples and boils, narrow eyes always moving, black
scabby brows and thin beard, tried every ointment to cure his face including quick silver and
acid, wore a flower garland on his head (perhaps to cover up the smell from his breath and
rotting face), very robust/large,
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: children were scared of him, loved garlic, onions and
leeks and red wine, would only speak Latin when drunk, and then only a few phrases- ones
he commonly overheard in court, was a scoundrel, could be paid off with wine or money to
overlook a man his mistress, had his own mistresses, guilts them into paying him to keep
quiet and lose his summons, he made it a point to know everyone’s secrets so he could
bribe them, could find him outside ale-houses (bars) eating large cakes, sang with the
26. The Pardoner:
a. Profession: a fake/charlatan/ religious imposter
b. Description: sang in a lovely tenor voice (very enchanting), referenced to be bird-like,
yellow, waxy hair, hang in flanks down his back (like dread locks), thin hair-rat tails, did NOT
wear a hood- instead a small cap with a hand-sewn cross on it, had bulging eyes like a
rabbit, carried a wallet (small bag) filled with pardons that were SUPPOSED to be from the
Pope, chin was ‘baby’ smooth- no hair grew there, had a voice like a goat, could not judge
whether he was a ‘gelding or a mare’
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: tried to be fashionable, carried a pillow case filled with
fake religious relics (lines 714- 721)- would offer to show people for money, had a wonderful
voice for singing or reading scriptures- another way he earned his money,
27. The Host:
a. Profession: owned the Tabard Inn
b. Description: hardy fellow, striking (would stand out ), bright eyes, wide in girth, manly-man,
c. Personality/Characteristics/Traits: : a good ‘host’- provided fine wine and food, bold speech
but also wise and full of tact (no purposeful insults), full of compliments for others, knows
how to talk to anyone
28, 29 and 30……a Nun, a priest and the Narrator.
a. Time of Year- April
b. Place that pilgrimage begins (city AND place)- Southwark….the Tabard Inn
c. Where are they going- Canterbury….
d. Who or what are they going to see- shrine of Thomas a Beckett
e. How long to get there (miles)- 55 miles there, 55 miles back
Total miles of trip- 110
g. What is the contest- who can tell the best story/tale
h. What is the prize- a dinner held in their honor at the END of their trip; paid for by all the other