Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 1400)
Life • Geoffrey is called the “father of English poetry” (made English language respectable) • Middle English Spoken • French/Latin used for literature, science, religion, etc. Except by Geoffrey Chaucer(who made it popular to write in English!) • Chaucer was somewhat educated and had some legal training • Chaucer was captured in France while serving in the Hundred Years War (apparently important enough to have the King contribute to his ransom) • Married a woman named Philippa and had at least 2 children • In 1367 he was awarded the first of SEVERAL pensions, or a regular payment, for his service to the crown Not a great deal is known of Chaucer’s life.
Chaucer began writing The Canterbury Tales in 1387 while unemployed. However, he never completed all of the stories. In spite of some unfinished stories, the collection is considered one of the greatest works in the English language. The dominant metrical form of The Canterbury Tales is Iambic Pentameter. It is a rhythm that most closely matched the way English was spoken. This was truly abandoning the old alliterative world of the Anglo-Saxons and entering the modern world of Shakespeare, and Robert Frost.
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. • Tales were told as a game to make the journey seem less tiresome, and as a contest to see who tells the best story. • Many different storytellers, therefore many different stories.
Structure and Themes • A prologue precedes the character’s tales, which introduces that character personally. • Each tale reveals much about each character and his or her values. • Major themes include morality and genuine v. false pilgrimages.
The Prologue • An introduction to the characters, each of which represent a different aspect of medieval life. • Reveals both virtues and faults of the characters; therefore it is a social commentary. • The characters are “types;” they have no names and they symbolize all members of their profession.
Assignment: • In your textbook read pages 115 – 116 • Get onto Canvas and complete the assignment titled “Snapshot of an Age” that can be found under the “Quizzes” category. 10. Based on the video we watched in class, explain in 2 paragraphs how hip-hop and ballads relate. Provide at least one example/support)