Summary About The Canterbury Tales English Literature Essay

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Our literature book states that Geoffrey Chaucer is not only one of the earliest English poets but also one of the greatest English poets. Chaucer also gifted the English literature with a status equal to other European vernaculars, showing that it could become a world literature. Our book also says that Geoffrey Chaucer's work later became the literary foundations of other poets including Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton. Chaucer developed his own view of English poetry, instead of writing in French of Latin, Chaucer wrote in English vernacular; the language that was spoken in and around London in his lifetime. Geoffrey Chaucer's work was strongly influenced by Dante, Boccaccio, as well as Petrarch.

The Canterbury Tales starts at the Tabard Inn located in Southwark. The narrator joins twenty-nine others, all of whom are on their way to Canterbury on pilgrimage. They are on pilgrimage to Canterbury to visit the shrine of the martyr Saint Thomas Becket. Before they head out to Canterbury the host of the Tabard Inn suggests that the group tell stories to entertain the others on the journey. The Host then suggests that he accompany the group on their pilgrimage to Canterbury to judge the stories. The winner of the contest will receive a meal from the Tabard Inn upon return from Canterbury. I feel that this pilgrimage to Canterbury shows that religion was a large part of everyday life back in the 1300s. The pilgrimage shows, to me, that the society of that day was willing to go great distances for religion.

The Miller is one of the pilgrims that told his story. He was a big mouth and a wart on his nose. He drunkenly interrupts the Host and insists that he tell his story next, instead of following the storytelling order. The Miller is blasphemous and swears. The Miller's story ridicules church officials, school clerks, carpenters and women. I feel that with the Millers prologue, Chaucer portrays the tension of the social ranks of England's 1300s social classes. The Knight told his story first because the Knight was considered a noble man. The pilgrimage group then wanted the Monk to tell his story next. I feel that with Chaucer having the Miller interrupt the Monk he was showing how the Hosts plan was interrupted and metaphorically the social classes of the day. Also during the Miller's tale he apologizes for the story he is about to tell and blames the offensive tale of the ale he has been drinking. I fell that with this Chaucer felt that a lot of the time people were drunk and would be offensive and instead of owning up to their drunkenness, they just blamed everything on the alcohol. The Miller's tale shows his mistrust of women and how he believes that officials, school clerks, and lower class people are ignorant. He uses a beautiful women and a school clerk to humiliate the church official and carpenter.

The Wife of Bath comes off in the story as a rather worldly woman. She loves sex and love the fact that she can control the men that she has married and the men that she has had affairs with. She is deaf in one ear and has a gap between her two front teeth. She has traveled to many places and enjoys rich things. She refers to virginity as being perfect. I believe that with Chaucer's reference to virginity equaling perfection, he believed that those who were not virgins are less than perfect. The Wife of Bath also reveres about how she would torment her husband's, also about how she would accuse them of having affairs so that they did not have the chance to blame her of cheating on them. She claims to have accuses them of all kinds of things when they were drunk, which would result in them feeling guilty and then giving her anything that she wanted. She also admits that she would always have a new husband lined up.

I feel that Chaucer saw women as uncontrollable and manipulative. This is evident with he message of the Wife of Bath's tale being that men should always obey women. I also believe that he thought that if a woman was pretty then she would commit adultery because of the attention she would receive from the men who found her attractive. I also believe that he thought that all women were liars. I think this because Chaucer had the Wife of Bath calling attention to how she lied. Her calling attention to her lying leads me to wonder if everything that she claims is actually true.

The Pardoner is an individual who forgives people of their sins for a price. Chaucer portrays the Pardoner as a shifty individual. Chaucer's Pardoner cheats people out of their money with his bag of fake relics. The Pardoner is always preaching about greed being the root of all evil, when he himself if guilty of being greedy. He also admits to preaching just to get money and not to absolve people's sins. Chaucer shows that the Pardoner, as well as others in his profession, is corrupt. I believe that the church officials during Chaucer's era were very corrupt individuals and Chaucer wrote them as he saw them. The Pardoners tale shows how greed can have horrible consequences. Also in his tale he talks about gluttony, swearing, alcoholism and gambling. All of these "vices" the Pardoner admits to committing in his prologue. At the end of his tale the Pardoner finishes as if he were preaching to parishioners. He displays his relics and asks if anyone needs any sins that need to be forgiven.

Chaucer writes about the corruption of the church and church officials. He writes about how the church is wealthy and how the church officials use different relics. I also feel that Chaucer has the pilgrimage set in the springtime to signify spiritual rebirth and renewal. Chaucer was very descriptive when he was describing the different pilgrim's clothes. I feel Chaucer was using the pilgrim's clothing to show their love of wealth and privilege.