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The Canterbury Tales. THE STRUCTURE OF THE TALES The Canterbury Tales is a collection of verse tales written in MIDDLE ENGLISH by Geoffrey Chaucer (the “father of English poetry”) between around 1386 and 1393.
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THE STRUCTURE OF THE TALES The Canterbury Tales is a collection of verse tales written in MIDDLE ENGLISH by Geoffrey Chaucer (the “father of English poetry”) between around 1386 and 1393. The framework of the stories used by Chaucer is a pilgrimage from London to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury. Chaucer probably borrowed this idea from Boccaccio’s Decameron. At first he wanted each of his 30 PILGRIMS, INCLUDING HIMSELF, to tell TWO TALES ON THE WAY FROM LONDON TO CANTERBURY AND TWO TALES ON THE WAY BACK: this would have given 120 tales in all, plus detailed descriptions of each pilgrim in the “General Prologue”. Actually, only 23 PILGRIMS TOLD A STORY, AND CHAUCER HIMSELF (as a pilgrim), TOLD TWO: so, now, we have 24 STORIES altogether.
CHAUCER’S PILGRIMS Chaucer’spilgrims are bothindividualswith theirowncharacteristics and stock typesembodyinguniversalfaults and virtues. For example, the Wife of Bathseemstobe a realcharacterbutshealsorepresents the typicalmiddle-class woman with social pretensions. Chaucer himselfis a pilgrim and not an invisible narrator.
A PORTRAIT OF MIDDLE-CLASS ENGLAND Chaucer’s pilgrims come from the English middle class (the feudal world; the Church – the clergy; the growing mercantile and professional middle class). Noblemen and farmersaren’t included. ThroughhischaractersChaucergivesus a portraitofmiddle-class England in the late 14th century. Hedescribeshispilgrimscarefullygiving information abouttheirappearance, behaviour and psychology.