Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales is about an unrelated group of twenty-nine pilgrims traveling together on a pilgrimage. One of the major aspects of the journey is the unique diversity of the characters. There are knights, nuns, monks, lower-class tradesman and single women. They interact together and tell each other their tales.

According to the Norton Anthology, "Chaucer's original plan for The Canterbury Tales projected about one hundred twenty stories two for each pilgrim to tell on the way to Canterbury and two more on the way back. Chaucer actually completed only twenty-two, although two more exist in fragments" (Norton 79). One of the characteristics that makes Chaucer's work so convincing is his ability to present characters that have real life qualities. Many women can relate to the Wife of Bath, and many college students can relate to the Squire with his lady friends.

The narrator of the tales is Geoffrey Chaucer himself: but he speaks though a variety of media: "...Chaucer's pilgrim narrators represent a wide spectrum of ranks and occupations. The great variety of tales is matched by the diversity of their tellers; tales are assigned to appropriate narrators and juxtaposed to bring out contrasts in genre, style, tone and values" (Norton 79).

The opinions about Chaucer as the pilgrim and as the poet are very different. Chaucer the Pilgrim is the narrator of the tales, and he must give an accurate description of what is going on, even if he disagrees with the character's action. First Chaucer the Pilgrim talks about nature and the seasons. He tells us that he is joined by several people on a journey to Canterbury. He talks about all the people involved in the pilgrimage. First he talks about the knight and then Chaucer talks about the knight's son, then the Yeoman, the Wife of Bath, the Monk, the Merchant, and the Clerk. Along their journey each character has his or her own tale to tell. The narrator is very descriptive of each of the characters. He makes sure to gives full details of each one. The role of Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales is extremely important. He plays many roles in the poem. He is our eyes; we rely on him to give us an accurate description of the characters without bias.

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