The Canterbury Tales: Study Guide
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If the character differs from the type of person bare overcoat; broad, with large hips and gap-teeth; thin, they described in the Focus Activity, the reason might closely shaved beard and shorn hair; thin legs; red faced, black include the fact that Chaucer did not describe the same brows Actions had been in fifteen battles; always killed his types of people that the students did. They are discovered alive in a pile of bodies and Theseus tious foods; had five husbands; paid his tithes; stole grain, told captures them; a friend arrives and persuades Theseus to dirty stories Speech spoke in French; lisped; gave his opinions let Arcite out; both events happen by chance.
They know almost nothing; Palamon says that Arcite has come home! He suggests that a contest be held in a year; he wants no and diligent; frugal one killed. Tales of Chivalry pages 25— 4. Arcite wins the contest, but then falls off his horse and dies. Both are honored. He says it is worthless and irritating. This suggests that or contest; ceremonial events; detailed descriptions.
Ultimately, yes, because Palamon had broken no vows. Character traits violent, perservering, honorable; wise and kind. Many will Details that show this attacks maiden, searches for answer, find such tales out of date, but some may suggest that pre- marries old woman; knows what women want, bestows upon senting ideal behavior is always worthwhile and instructive. Knight everything he wanted. What makes happy marriage? A strong wife who knows what she wants. Women want mastery sovereignty over their husbands.
He Details that show this He keeps testing her; she keeps bowing learns this from an ugly old woman he met at the edge of a to his wishes. An obedient wife. Cautionary Tales pages — 2. He orders the children taken away, and he has Griselda happens: all three men die Lesson or lessons: Greed leads to sent home.
She responds patiently and obediently. The death. This sug-. It takes place in spring, a good time because the weather is the marquis and Griselda would say that a wife should always good and because it is a time for new beginnings. The Knight is described first, which suggests that the narra- tor ranked him highly.
Recall and Interpret 3. They led easy lives. They ate well and seemed to care little 1. A rooster, a hen, and a fox. Animals make a story funnier about religion. This suggests that they were not very pious, and more memorable. They are also more likely to be seen yet did belong to the upper social classes. The Parson is a devout man who watches over his flock.
He fears they will come true. This suggests that Chaucer saw dreams. Since bad things do befall him, it suggests that he the clergy as individuals—some good, some bad. He is a genial man, who suggests the stories for fun. He escapes because he does not allow himself to be asks them to tell old stories, which suggests that everyone tricked twice. The moral is that although pride can lead to knew old stories and was probably familiar with telling them. Evaluate and Connect 4. He is greedy and corrupt and unrepentant. His characters 6. Students might say that the Wife of Bath is most realistic, are also immoral and greedy.
They might stand for laziness, because of the details about her appearance and past life. The old man welcomes it, but the young men want to avoid Making Connections it. This suggests that death can be a comfort as well as 5. He describes both forms. The human foibles that they describe are still found in peo- from The Fifth Pillar ple, so the lessons are worthwhile. However, the details Responding to the Readingn and practices depicted are outdated.
Modern pilgrims need clothing and must complete lots of 7. Students might warn against greed, lack of piety, violence, paperwork; like pilgrims in the past, they would also pack or some other social or personal evil. The mutawwif acts almost like a travel agent, helping pil- grims complete official papers, secure lodging, and perform In Chaucer Tale, a Clue to an Astronomic Reality religious rites. Responding to the Reading 3. First, she had to prove that she was a Muslim; then she 1. A rare celestial alignment took place that may have caused had to share a room with many people; the woman in unusually high tides.
Students may say that the 2. Chaucer mentions actual details of that event, such as a crowded quarters would offer the greatest challenge. Also, he was very interested in 4. Students may be surprised at the variety of pilgrims, their astronomy and would have likely known about the event. The author mentions 3. Students may either agree or disagree, but they should having gone on another pilgrimage. Making Connections 4. Students may say that Chaucer was so interested in science 5. In both accounts, groups of people of all ages band that today he might use a scientific explanation.
Making Connections 5. Many students will find the change unbelievable, since it 6. They were both in love with the same woman, Emily. They valued the gold that was under the tree. Since the marquis behaves cruelly, students may think that 8. He tells her to make the decision herself. She is pleased Griselda actually acts more nobly. Her daughter had been taken away when she was little.
He refused to take money for performing the magic feat. Making Connections Evaluate and Connect any 2 4. Responding to the Readingn 2. Many students will contrast the genuinely pious Parson to 1. She wanted to find out who would love her best. Students the worldlier Monk or Friar or Nun. The former actually fol- may think this is either practical or calculating. Students may respond that the knights showed poor judg- part but their actions are contrary to the teachings. Both are frame tales and both deal with a variety of charac- 3. Each was thinking of her or his point of view. Since both ters.
Chaucer refers to earlier Italian writers, and he retells thought The Unfortunate One was the better name, stu- a story that appeared first in the Decameron. Chivalry is a code of conduct and manners. Students 4. She says that she wants her grief remembered. She may should give some example, as when Arcite and Palamon also want to tell her point of view or to show how men compete in a tournament to win the love of a lady.
Students might point out that his knowledge of people is Making Connections shown by the variety of the pilgrims; his exposure to a 5. Many students may suggest that the Knight might have told variety of literature is shown by the tales and details of such a tale, because it deals with chivalry and tourna- other cultures.
For example, he reveals a knowledge of ments, subjects with which he was familiar. It provided an ideal toward which people could strive. Students might say the Super Bowl or another sporting event. They are alike because they both draw huge crowds, are costly for the attendees, sell food, and profit winners. He is physically strong, brave, loyal, and ennobled by love. Some students may say that there would be less violence or rudeness. Others may say that the poor might fare worse because, in the scheme of things, they did not count. Life As a Writer For the rest of his life, Chaucer held a variety of governmental posts.
Despite his duties, he managed to produce a large body of work. Many scholars divide his work into three distinct periods. His early poetry, includes the Book of the Duchess and the Romaunt of the Rose. Later, he wrote the Parliament of Fowls and Troilus and Criseyde. First, it marks the beginnings of a new tradi- who ever lived. There had never been tion: Chaucer was the first writer to use English in anything like the lively realism of the ride to a major literary work.
Secondly, it gives a picture Canterbury done or dreamed of in our of a cross-section of society during the s. He is not only the father of Finally, it is a detailed, lifelike, and engaging pic- all our poets, but the grandfather of all our ture. Chaucer lets his characters speak as they hundred million novelists. This was risky because they ——G. Chaucer acknowledges this fact himself:. I rehearse. He Their tales as told, for better or for worse, For else I should be false to what occurred.
Despite the mundane Many historical, that will profess duties that he carried out, the position exposed Morality, good breeding, saintliness. Some critics were shocked by the earthy lan- His education was broad. He was a voracious guage and humor in certain stories, but even more reader who read in four different languages— were captivated by the characters, stories, and the English, Latin, French, and Italian. As one of his language itself. He cre- When he was in his twenties, Chaucer was ated approximately 17, lines of vivid poetry made a court official, an appointment that began that has such universal appeal that it still attracts many years of public service.
During his career, he new readers today. The concerns reflected garments, we know also what they think, how major social changes that were occurring: they express themselves, and with what eyes Social changes The old feudal system was begin- they look out to the world. Previously, the ruling classes ——Alexander Smith, Dreamthorp had held all the power because they owned the land, which was a major source of wealth.
The ones In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses a form that who remained felt a new power, since landowners had been used before—the frame tale, a larger depended on these workers. Realizing this new story, inside of which are many smaller stories. They Since Chaucer had spent time in Italy, he was were no longer content with life as it had been.
In fact, he keepers arose in response to widening trade even incorporated stories from that work and opportunities, adding a new level to society. After all, before stories were printed, as they are There was controversy after the French Pope today, people were used to hearing and rehearing Clement V moved the seat of the Church to the same tales. Their pleasure came not just from France. Each who was really the head of the Church. Second, teller added special qualities to a story. Once Although Chaucer was not the first to use only the clergy could read and write, but now the frame tale, or even most of the plots them- schools were springing up to teach the new.
As more people learned to read, whose language and style was distinctive. Instead of reading Today, this may not sound so unusual, but religious tracts or moralistic tales, people wanted before Chaucer, most literature featured epic more realistic works. The Canterbury Tales heroes—larger-than-life characters—or highly provided this.
A character in the Prologue, the Host, sug- people. Through them, Chaucer provided a lively gests that each of the thirty pilgrims tell four look at three distinct groups of people in fourteenth- stories each, which suggests that Chaucer planned century England: different tales. However, he died after having Members of the feudal system: Knight, written only twenty-two of them. Since he left Squire, Yeoman, Franklin, Plowman, Miller, Reeve behind a pile of incomplete tales and story parts, People in religious life: Nun, Monk, Friar, no one knows exactly when they were written or Cleric, Parson, Summoner, Pardoner in what order Chaucer intended them.
Every half a century, cel- People had been making that journey for ebrations were held there on the anniversary of his years to worship at a shrine of St. He had been the archbishop of Canterbury pilgrims. Did You Know? For example, but not in the English of today. Chaucer spoke what we now call the silent e at the ends of a language that we now call Middle English. Middle English was the language of England The fact that Chaucer chose Middle English after the Norman conquest of and before at all was unusual at the time.
Most writers of the modern English that we speak today. He could have included many words from French and from chosen one of them.
Study Guide: The Canterbury Tales
Middle English was con- Latin. Furthermore, it no longer contained all sidered ordinary, not literary, language, and the the complicated word endings used in Old fact that Chaucer selected it suggests that English. Although many Middle English words these tales were written for the general popula- look familiar today, their pronunciation was tion instead of the ruling classes.
The pilgrimage offers them time and space away from their everyday cares; they are on holiday, thus open to each other in a way they would not be in any other context. A spirit of play animates their interactions, a spirit of acceptance informs their attitudes. People who would otherwise be separated by social class or occupation or gender are brought together by chance. What kinds would you enjoy sharing company with on a long trip? Choose someone you know well. Setting a Purpose Read to find out about the colorful characters who embark on the journey to Canterbury. Some went to show their devo- tion; others went to pray for miracles; still others went for more mundane reasons.
They wanted adven- ture, perhaps, or a change of scenery. Pilgrims usually banded together for safety and convenience. The roads they traveled on often were unpaved, muddy, and difficult to ride on. Also, a lone traveler was more likely to be robbed than a member of a group would be. People stayed at inns along the way, often sharing rooms and sometimes beds with complete strangers. Two of the most common forms include satire and irony. Satire is a type of writing that pokes fun at people, their weaknesses, institutions, and social conventions.
Satire takes different forms: it can be moralistic and indignant, or it can be gentle. Irony means using words to express the opposite of what is literally said. For instance, a writer might create a character who is a firefighter, yet who, for the thrill of extinguishing them, sets fires deliberately. Try to write at least one detail for each main character.
Appearance, Includ- Actions ing Clothing curly locks, brown face.
Speech Direct Characteriza- tion Descriptive Words. Analyzing Literature Recall and Interpret 1. At what time of year does this pilgrimage take place? Why is this a good time of year for such a trip? Which pilgrim is described first? What words or phrases support your answer? What sort of life did the Prioress and the Monk lead? What does this suggest about their values and position in life?
Introduction & Overview of The Canterbury Tales
What details do you learn about the Parson? What sort of man is the Host, and what reason does he give for suggesting the stories? What sorts of stories does he ask the pilgrims to tell? Which character or characters are most lifelike, do you think, and which are most ideal- ized? Now that you have met the pilgrims, which one would you most enjoy traveling with?
Is this the type of person you described in the Focus Activity question on page 16? If not, in what ways does the person differ? Literature and Writing Who Says? Support your answer with reasons and evidence from the text. Extending Your Response Literature Groups Which characters does Chaucer seem to admire, and which does he poke fun at? Answer the question for yourself first and then compare your answers with other members of your group.
Discuss the reasons for the answers, and try to see if you can reach agreement as a group. Learning for Life The Host acts a little like a tour guide, happily planning activities for his visitors. However, he is first of all a businessman, and happy guests mean recommendations and repeat visitors. As the Host, write a business plan for your inn. Explain what you offer, how you promote your business now, and how you plan to expand your business in the future.
Provide facts and figures that document that your business is worthy of a loan. Save your work for your portfolio. What qualities do you associ- ate with them? Freewrite Spend three or four minutes freewriting on the topic of medieval knights and ladies. Begin by answering the questions above. Then keep writing until the full time has elapsed.
Setting a Purpose Read to discover the varieties of chivalric behavior portrayed in Tales of Chivalry. A romance is a long narrative about chivalric heroes. Elements of Chivalry Chivalry was the code of conduct and manners associated with knights in the Middle Ages.
However, as you read these tales, you may be surprised by how many elements do appear, even though they might be cast in an unexpected setting, such as ancient Greece. To focus on their common view of chivalry, fill in the diagram below. Note some of the distinguishing features that each story con- tains, as well as the similarities.
Describe why or why not.
How do Arcite and Palamon wind up in prison, and how does Arcite get out? What part does chance play in these events? What do the men know of Emily? When Arcite voices his love for her, why does Palamon become so angry? What does he suggest? What rules must be followed? What finally happens to Arcite and Palamon? What ceremonies are associated with each event? What rewards does each man gain? What does this difference suggest about what was acceptable in a chivalric romance?
Give reasons for your answer. Review the freewriting that you did in response to the Focus Activity on page In what ways did these tales match your expectation and in what ways were they different? Are any of these elements meaningful today? Explain your answer. Literature and Writing Analyzing Details Certain situations in these stories are described in detail, while others are taken care of in a few lines. Select one scene that is vividly described and analyze the types of details that it contains. Be sure to support your conclusions with specific examples and reasons. Extending Your Response Literature Groups Although women are considered to be the audience for modern romance novels, they may not have been the audience for medieval romances.
Compare your answer with that of other groups to see if there is any consensus. They are produced by groups who enjoy creating medieval reenactments. One of the best-known groups is the Society for Creative Anachronism, but it is not the only group. Using a search engine, find Web sites about medieval reenactments to discover some fasci- nating glimpses into modern chivalric ceremonies and to see why people enjoy them. What ingredients would you choose?
List It Work with classmates to make a list of elements that are likely to produce happy marriages. Setting a Purpose Read to discover the roles that husbands and wives often fulfilled in medieval marriages. Men and women were treated quite differently in the Middle Ages, and these differences were probably most apparent among the upper classes.
Some, for example, considered men to be rational human beings, motivated by logic, honor, and virtue, while women were often seen as passionate creatures who were not as spiritual as men. Describe the manciple? Describe the Summoner? What is the pardoners favorite text? Why does the pardoner admit his own corruption? What do the 3 rioters ask of the boy? What does he tell them? Who died? What allegoric character is presented in lines ? Where did the old man tell him to look?
What did they find? Under an Oak tree. Gold coins. What did they decide to do? Who drew the longest straw? And what was his task? At this point what is the moral of the story? Who is the friend? What did the young man buy? What did he do with his purchase? What happened to the young man? The other two? What did the pardoner have in his bale? What did he want to do with them?
The Canterbury Tales | Introduction & Overview
What is her tale about? What does she accuse the friars of doing? What did the knight do? What happened to him? Who saved him? What question did the queen want answered? What is the thing that women most desire? How long did she give him to find out the answer? Line What does the Wife of Bathe say about women keeping secrets?
Who did the knight find?