The Canterbury Tales: basic Prologue & framework Story Introduction


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The Canterbury Tales is the world"s weirdest roadway trip.

It tells the story of a team of pilgrims (fancy word because that travelers) top top their method to Canterbury, who interact in a tale-telling challenge to pass the time. As well as watching the interactions in between the characters, we obtain to check out 24 of the story the pilgrims tell. 

And together it turns out, middle ages storytellers had actually some "tude.

Geoffrey Chaucer most likely wrote The Canterbury Tales in the so late 1380s and also early 1390s, after his retirement native life as a civil servant. In this experienced life, Chaucer to be able to travel from his home in England come France and Italy. There, he not only had the opportunity to review Italian and French literature, yet possibly, even to meet Boccaccio, whose Decameron—a repertoire of tales told through Italian the aristocracy holed up in a nation house come escape the torment ravaging their city—may have actually inspired the frame story that The Canterbury Tales.

Chaucer"s decision to write in his country"s language, English, fairly than in the Latin that so countless of his educated colleagues, to be a large break through learned tradition. But the hazard paid off: we recognize The Canterbury Tales to be enormously popular since so many much more manuscripts the the tales make it through than of nearly any other job-related of this time period. The Canterbury Tales to be still going solid when the first printers made their method to England, and William Caxton released the an initial printed version of The Canterbury Tales in 1476.

One that the things that makes The Canterbury Tales so funny to read is the good (and often, uh, grotesque) detail with which the narrator describes each the the pilgrims. We learn, for example, that the chef has a pustule on his foot that really much resembles among the desserts the cooks...and the the miller has a huge, pug nose. For countless of his portraits, Chaucer is relying ~ above a medieval tradition of "estates satire," a arsenal of stereotypes around people based upon what occupation they had actually or what social class they belonged to. Another medieval idea his portraits draw upon is "anticlericalism," a heritage that got its begin in reaction come a most abuses by clergy in the middle ages church, but which basically came to be a repertoire of stereotypes around friars, monks, nuns, priests, and also the like. 

Sounds funny? the is.

Chaucer draws upon this traditions, however he doesn"t have to regurgitate them whole: as you"ll see when you examine the portraits of the pilgrims an ext closely, many of them room not what castle appear. What does the say about the toughness of the conclusions we draw around people based upon first impressions, or appearances?

Since The Canterbury Tales is a story around a storytelling competition, plenty of of the questions it asks are about stories: 

What provides for a an excellent story?Why perform we phone call stories?Why should us tell stories? 

As the pilgrims tell your stories, though, they rotate out to it is in talking not just about fairytale people in remote lands, however also around themselves and also their society. This leads to a many of conflict in a team of pilgrims created by members of that same society, who frequently take violation at the execution of us they see shown in the tales. 

The basic Prologue come The Canterbury Tales and the interactions in between the pilgrims that happen in between the tales, then, kind a story of your own. Dare we say, a Canterbury tale?


What is The Canterbury Tales: general Prologue & structure Story around and Why need to I Care?

You understand those movies whereby a new kid move to town and has to walk to a brand-new high school, choose Mean Girls? on his first day the school, the brand-new kid meets a friendly nerd who takes him come the cafeteria and introduces him to every the cliques that consist of his brand-new social existence: "And below we have actually the jocks. And here space the mathematics geeks…" Well, in The Canterbury Tales, you"re the brand-new kid, and also Chaucer is her friendly nerd, serving together your guide to the jocks, cheerleaders, and math geeks of medieval society. Choose your familiar nerd, he"s witty and also sarcastic, revealing all of the posing and also preening that"s walk on in this cafeteria while at the very same time no hope longing to be a part of it. that course, the very same thing always happens in the course of those movies: the new kid end up wanting to day outside of, or socialize beyond, the clique right into which he"s automatically cast due to the fact that of his "new kid" status. Angst ensues, but, at the finish of the day, everybody figures out that the cheerleader really isn"t shallow ~ all, the jock has a heart of gold, and the math geezer a beautiful soul. Everyone is hiding something interesting. No one is exactly what they first appeared come be. Well, in The Canterbury Tales, the exact same thing is true: appearances have the right to be deceiving. Or deserve to they? The Canterbury Tales are written in a culture that, to part extent, believed you could referee a publication by its covering – that the physics characteristics, or the mere category of a person, can reveal something around what to be on the inside. In part ways, the pilgrims" portraits in The Canterbury Tales check the typical stereotypes: the lower-class human is very physical, the consummate mam is lustful. But, as the Tales progress, these human being have the opportunity to speak because that themselves. What happens then isn"t exactly a contradiction of the stereotypes around them, however it isn"t precisely a confirmation of them, either. Together so often happens as soon as you really obtain to recognize someone, what you find out in The Canterbury Tales is the people, also the ones we think we have figured out, are never ever one-dimensional and constantly worth gaining to understand better.


The Canterbury Tales: general Prologue & structure Story Resources


Full message of the TalesHandy online variation of the Tales, v facing-page contemporary English "translation" beside the original middle English. In ~ the text itself, you can click on many the the words to it is in taken straight to the word"s definition.

Searchable full TextThe digital Literature structure (ELF)"s variation of the tales are totally searchable, available in facing page center English – contemporary English "translation," and also illustrated with pictures from the Ellesmere manuscript.

Tales elevator InfoThe late, an excellent Professor woman Zatta"s website compiles advantageous background details on plenty of of the tales, including current scholarly opinions and also probable sources for the tales.

Movie or TV Productions

2003 BBC MiniseriesThis is a contemporary adaptation of some of the tales. In the an initial episode, "The Miller"s Tale," a tenant tries come seduce his landlord"s wife.

A Knight"s Tale, 2001No, that doesn"t actually have actually anything to perform with the Knight"s tale we uncover in the Canterbury Tales. Yet Paul Bettany delightfully plays the personality Chaucer, who"s funny, self-deprecating, and also kind of prefer we"ve always imagined he would be if he confirmed up at a dinner party.

Historical Documents

The Hengwrt ChaucerYou need to pay if you desire the full digital version of the Hengwrt manuscript, but the demonstration allows you check out a couple of pages for free! The coolest attribute is the component that lets you see the Hengwrt manuscript side by side through the Ellesmere.

Blake painting Fights Old BattleNews blurb about the Tate brothers obtaining william Blake"s sculpture The Canterbury Pilgrims come hang alongside rival cutting board Stothard"s composition of the exact same theme. Story add by pictures of both compositions.


"The Criyng and also the Soun"This web page collects audio documents of Chaucer check out aloud from everywhere the web. Many of the recordings are meant as sources to help students find out the together of center English.

The Canterbury roadway to modern EnglandNPR reporting complies with the roadway from London come Canterbury – the very same route complied with by the Canterbury pilgrims – to have a look in ~ English culture as it has progressed over the last 6 centuries. Some surprising parallels between medieval and contemporary characters room revealed.

Out LoudListen to medievalist mrs Zatta review lines 1-42 that the "General Prologue" in center English.

Resources to assist Students discover Middle English

Teach you yourself to Read center EnglishThis page, detailed by Harvard, provides ten great that begin with a general explanation of the ethics of middle English pronunciation and move on to actual practice with the story themselves.

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A an easy Chaucer GlossaryThis is a advantageous glossary of middle English terms frequently used in Chaucer. The 100 most usual words space denoted by an asterisk.