Geoffrey Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales

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					 Geoffrey Chaucer and
 The Canterbury Tales
Overview of a Life and Work
        Chaucer the man
Born 1345-46 ?
Positions held:
  Esquire of the royal court
  Comptroller of customs,
  port of London
  Soldier, Hundred Years’ War
  Justice of the peace
  Member of Parliament...Etc.!

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Celebrated Author
    Among works written:
        The House of Fame, late 1370s.
        The Parliament of Fowls, 1380.
        Boece, Troilus, and Croseyede,
        The Legend of Good Women,
        The Canterbury Tales.
        This was a 13-year project:
             begun 1387-92
                 bulk written 1392-95
                        latest tales 1396-1400

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 Chaucer’s Life and Family

Chaucer’s father was a vintner.
Chaucer belonged to the upper
middle class.
He had a wife and children.
Well respected among peers and
held in high esteem by king;
received annual wine supplies,
which later increased in size
Little is known of his life beyond
official duties and achievements.
He died in 1400 (October 25?).

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About The Canterbury Tales

 A series of stories told by individuals representing a
 cross-section of medieval English society who undergo
 a Christian pilgrimage from London to Canterbury.
 Told as a game to make the journey less tiresome and
 grueling, and to see who tells the best tale.
 Many different storytellers—some rough, vain, or
 materialistic; others wise, pious, or noble.
 Therefore, many different tales...
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The Characters
  The Knight
  The Miller
  The Reeve
  The Cook
  The Man of Law
  The Wife of Bath
  The Friar
  The Summoner
  The Clerk
  The Merchant
  The Squire
  The Franklin
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More Characters
                            The Physician
                            The Pardoner
                            The Shipman
                            The Prioress
                            Sir Topas
                            The Monk
                            The Nun’s Priest
                            The Canon’s Yeoman
                            The Manciple
                            The Parson
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Structure and Themes
                          A prologue precedes each
                          character’s tale
                          The prologue introduces
                          the character personally
                          The tale reveals more
                          through the character’s
                          chosen subject and
                          treatment of that subject
                          Major themes include
                          morality and genuine vs.
                          false pilgrimage

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The Text in Verse: Prologue
        “Here bygynneth the Book of the Tales of

        Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
        The droghte of March hath perced to the
             roote,. . .
        Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
        Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
        The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne. . .
        Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
        And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
        To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
        And specially from every shires ende
        Of Engelond to Caunterbury they

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Pronouncing Vowels in Middle English
          Middle English               Sounds like Modern
         y,i “myne, sight”                   “meet”
         e, ee “me, meet,
          mete” (close e)
         e “begge, rede”
             (open e)
        a, aa “mate, maat”                   “father”
         u, ou “hus, hous”                    “boot”
        o, oo “bote, boot”
             (close o)
        o “lof, ok” (open o)                 “bought”

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Web References
 A Geoffrey Chaucer bio on a food-themed site with medieval
 About Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales, plus text excerpts: and
 Audio clip of professor reciting Canterbury prologue:
 Learning Middle English – multiple-lesson website:
 0.htm#Index found through
 Aspects of Life in the Middle Ages, including quizzes and
 Clip Art:
 bin/kids/imageFolio.cgi?direct=History/Middle_Ages and

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 ASSIGNMENT: Click on the hyperlink below. Explore
the website. Then, in a paragraph, describe three things
that most interest, puzzle, or enlighten you about the
information you find: Life in the Middle Ages. DUE 10/5.

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