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GEOFFREY CHAUCER began writing the Canterbury Tales sometime around 1387; the uncompleted manuscript was published in 1400, the year he died.Having recently passed the six hundredth anniversary of its publication, the book is still of interest to modern students.


PILGRIMAGES TO CANTERBURY. As early as the 3rd century ,pious christians journeyed to the holy land, according to the eusebius , for spiritual reinforcement. The difficulties of medieval travel limited to number of palmers (those wearing a sprig of palm to show they had journeyed to palestine) but many holy places were sought within western Europe and in England. In England the most famous shrine was that of Canterbury which contained the relics of st. Thomas a Becket, whose murder followed his quarrel with Henry II.On an April day, a group of medieval pilgrims set out on a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury  to pay their respects to the tomb of Saint Thomas becket at canterbury cathedral. The group is described in detail, with characters from all classes, upper and lower, represented. Religious characters, such as a monk  and a pardoner , travel alongside a sailor, miller, carpenter, and a knight, among others. When the group stops for the night, the host of the pilgrimage proposes that they all tell stories to each other along the way. The pilgrims agree to tell four stories each, two on the way to Canterbury, and two on the way back. The person who tells the best story, as determined by the host, will have his way paid by the rest of the group. The tale-telling begins with the knight and proceeds as the pilgrims near Canterbury, each person telling a story that reflects their social position, and some telling stories which are intended to make fun of others in the group.


  The trip from London to Canterbury at that time regularly consumed three or four days, which Chaucer seems to have planned for his pilgrims as: April 17-18-19-20. ın the general prologue, Chaucer gives the number of pilgrims, including himself, as thirty.The general prologue actually gives a count of 32 .Chaucer evidently intended a total of 120 stories, but wrote only 24, four of this unfinished. 




   The poetic meter, or rhythm, used throughout  the Canterbury Tales is iambic pentameter. This means that each line is based on pairs of syllables, proceeding from one that would be unstressed in normal speech to one that is stressed. This pattern is called the iamb, and a poetic structure based on it is called iambic. When the english language is spoken, this pattern occurs naturally, so the rhythm of an iambic poem is hardly noticeable when read aloud. Because the lines generally have five iambs each, for a total of ten syllables per line, the rhythm is described as iambic pentameter—"penta" is the Greek word for "five."




The pilgrims include a knight, his son a squire, the knight's yeoman, a prioress accompanied by a  second nun and the nun's priest, a monk , a friar, a merchant , a clerk, a sergeant of law, a franklin, a haberdasher, a carpenter, a weaver, a dyer, a tapestry weaver, a cook, a shipman, a doctor of physic, a wife of Bath, a parson, his brother a plowman, a miller, a manciple, a reeve, a summoner, a pardoner, the host, and a portrait of Chaucer himself. The order the pilgrims are introduced places them in a social order, describing the nobility in front, the craftsmen in the middle, and the peasants at the end. A canon and his yeoman later join the pilgrimage and tell one of the tales.




A robust, lusty woman,a match for Shakespeare's Falstaff.Cloth weaver from near Bath.Anxious to show herself and her possesions before others, she loved pilgrimages.Her five husbands are understandable, for in her age mortality was high, and every woman of property needed a protecter.She nagged her husbands mercilessy, and was partially deaf from a husband's cuffing.An Arthurian fairy tale told in heroic couplets.Immediate source is unknown, but  the theme of the transformed Hag appears in literature, popular and belletristic, in many ages and countries.The story is probably a nature myth of primitive origin.For the completely Un-victorian Wife of Bath the story is surprisingly delicate and graceful,as well as highly amusing.




We wommen han, if that I shal nat lye,
In this matere a queynte fantasye:
Wayte what thyng we may nat lightly have,
Therafter wol we crie al day and crave.
Forbede us thyng, and that desiren we;
Preesse on us faste, and thanne wol we fle








The Canterbury Tales begins with the General Proogue. There is a dtailed introduction of each of the pilgrims journeying to Canterbury to catch sight of the shrine to sir Thomas a Becket. The pilgrims, a mixture of virtuous and villainouscharacters from Medieval England, include a Knight, his son the Squire,the Knight’s Yeoman, a Prioress, a Second Nun, a Monk, a Friar, a Merchant, a Clerk, Carpenter, a Tapestry-Maker, a Haberdasher, a Cook, a Shipman, a Physician, a Parson, a Miller a Manciple, a Reeve, a Summoner, a Pardoner, the Wife of Bath, and Chauser himself. They each bring a slice of England to the trip with their stories of glory, chivalry, Christianity, villainy, disloyalty, cuckoldry, and honour.


The pilgrimage consists of these characters journeying to Centerbury and back, each telling two tales in each direction, as suggested by the host. At the conclusion of the tales the host will decide whose story is the best.


The Centerbury Tales are not fully completed, fort he original task of having each pilgrim tell two tales is never realized.


Chaucer concludes his tales with a Retraction, asking for mercy and forgiveness from those whom he may have offended along his course of storytelling and pilgrimage. He hopes to blame his ignorance and lack of education on any erroneous behavior or language, for he believes that his intentions were all moralitics and honourable. In the end, he gives all credit to Jesus Christ.  

















Comments (3)

Anonymous said

at 12:31 am on Jan 13, 2009

The most surprising aspect of the Canterbury Tales is that alhough the manuscript was published in 1400,the book is still of interest to modern students.Also,while the characters were going to Canterbury,they both have an enjoyable journey and made a great contribution to English Literature telling these tales.

Anonymous said

at 5:50 pm on Jan 14, 2009

The Canterbury Tales have splendid tales.Social status ,which the pilgrim have, have an effect on themes of tales.the themes of tales include topics such as courtly love,treachery,and avarice.this makes them more readable.

Anonymous said

at 7:25 pm on Jan 15, 2009

The Canterbury Tales is one of the most famous and most frustrating works of literature ever written. Büşra

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