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How The Canterbury Tales Reflect Upon Middle Age Society

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Dillon Roach

on 2 December 2014

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Transcript of How The Canterbury Tales Reflect Upon Middle Age Society

Canterbury Tale's Historical Significance to Medieval Society:
-It reflects the ways in which societies roles were changing within the elite.
General Plot:
Thank you!
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer was a revolutionary work written in the early 15th Century that uses poetic observations and writings of the recent past in order to dwell upon medieval society and to incorporate a range of values toward average life around the time it was made.

How The Canterbury Tales Reflect Upon Middle Age Society
By Dillon Roach
Pier Review Journal:
Author's Main Points or arguments:
Geoffrey Chaucer:
-Book Written in the 14th Century; General Prologue and some tales written from 1380-1392. Finally completed sometime in 1400 just before his death.
Takes place in the late 14th Century, after 1381 on pilgrimage to Canterbury; The Tabard Inn.
Main Characters:
-The 29 members of the party of pilgrims who journeyed from London to Canterbury (i.e. The Knight, The Nun Priest, Chaucer himself as observer)
- The protagonist in the individual stories themselves( i.e. The Rooster Chanticleer in the Second Nun's Tale)
- That Mr. Chaucer is a lot more politically charged than the visionary people expect him to be and actually exhibits ideological challenges in his writing.
-It shows a ruling ideology of assigning blame for opposition among scapegoats in post-rebellion and separation of blame from kighthood or the aristocracy.
How it relates to the novel's historical context:
What kind of evidence did he use to make his argument:
Why is this novel important to history?
Citation and references:
Examples include Corruption of the Church, Social Class and Convention, and Relativism vs. Reality.
It is a highly influential work that examines the time period it was written and is still a primary source to studying culture in the High Middle Ages in this day and age.
-Born in London between 1340 and 1344
-Through his father's connections, Geoffrey held several positions early in his life (i.e. nobleman, civil servant), and was taken prisoner in The Hundred Years' War until paid ransom by King Richard III of England
-His early work was influenced by love poetry of the French Tradition (i.e. influencing The Second Nun's Tale) , until eventually transitioning into more Italian influenced works that marked his period of artistic maturity.
-The importance of Religion and the profound influence of The Church in 14th Century England.
-Also, some of the hypocrisy exhibited by Church members at the time
-The Shifting roles of sex and romance in a Medieval Society.
After meeting the group at the Tabard Inn in London, he and the 29 pilgrim travel to see the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury.
So, in order to pass the time on the way there, each pilgrim agrees to tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two and their return, with the narrator as the judge to see who has the best tale.
Eventually, they reach a village and the host wants The Pardon to tell him a fable, with the later instead opting
to tell a lengthy treatise on The Seven Deadly Sins.
Chaucer himself ends it with crediting the stuff everyone likes about the book to Jesus Christ and everything they don't like on his own ignorance. Eventually retracting and praying for forgiveness on previously writing about secular and Pagan subjects.
"[The Plowman] wolde thresshe, and therto dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every povre wight,
Withouten hyre, if it lay in his might. '
(General Prologue 536 – 538)
Plowman represents the poor in Medieval society. He works not only for himself, but for all poor men. (Solidarity of the Poor)
"It is nat honest, it may nat avaunce
For to delen with no swich poraille,
But al with riche and selleres of vitaille.'
(General Prologue 246 – 248)


The Friar is hypocritical in his vow of poverty, opting for pride and material possessions instead of helping the poor.
Talks about if or not Chaucer's personal accounts of The 1831 Peasant Revolt reflects upon his poetry and his political ideologies.
-Gives detailed analysis of certain characters potentially influenced by this event (Knight, Franklin, Plowman, Miller, and Reeve and how they correlate between each other
-Recite the classes they represents and roles they play as allegory in the poems themselves.
-Cite multiple theories and trains of thought from respective sources that either agree or disagree with his pier review journal.
Became the first book of poetry written in the English Language
Perfectly illustrates the daily live of a person living in the High Middle Ages and embodies the entire culture for modern readers to understand the time period.
Also captures the average Medieval person motivation and train of thought as they go through their lives.
-Chaucer, G. (2008). The Canterbury Tales. (Raffel,
Trans.) New York: Modern Library.
(Original Work Published 1400)
Blamires, Alcuin (2000). Chaucer The Revolutionary: Ideology and The General Prologue to The
Canterbury Tales The Review of English Studies, New Series, Vol. 51, No. 204 523-539.

SparkNotes Editors. (2003). SparkNote on The Canterbury Tales. Retrieved November 21, 2014, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/canterbury/
The Academy of American Poets, Inc. Poet: Geoffrey Chaucer
Retrieved from http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/geoffrey-chaucer
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Society and Class Quotes. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from http://www.shmoop.com/canterbury-tales-prologue/society-class-quotes.html
(Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008)
Jokinen, A. (1998). Chaucer- Canterbury Tales. (Image) Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature Retrieved from http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/lydgatepilgrims.jpg
Image Citation: (Jokinen, 1998)
Geoffrey-Chaucer-drawing (Image). (2012). Retrieved from December 2nd, 2014
from http://inharshlight.com/2012/02/16/a-belated-valentines-day-card-to-chaucer/geoffrey-chaucer-drawing/

(Image Citation: Inharshlight.com, 2012)
Many events
Many of these themes reflects upon many events that Chaucer personally witnessed (examples include: The Black Plague, The Peasant Revolt of 1831, The Hundred Years War...etc)
-a merchant oligarchy, which attempted to control both the aristocracy and the lesser artisan classes
-Labor force gaining increased leverage with better wages after the Black Plague
Index of the Poems
-General Prologue: Introduction
The Knight through the Man of Law
The Franklin through the Pardoner
-The Knights Tale
-The Miller's Tale
-The Wife of Bath's Tale
-The Pardoner's Tale
-The Nun Priest's Tale
The Reeve's Tale
-The Cook's Tale
The Man of Law's Tale
The Friar's
The Summoner's
The Clerk's
The Merchant's
The Squire's
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