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Comparing Canterbury Tales and Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Taryn Leiter

on 16 March 2013

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Transcript of Comparing Canterbury Tales and Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Comparison of Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales and Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Born about 1343 in London
- His father was a prosperous wine merchant
- Held a number of royal positions under King Edward III and also his successor, Richard II
- Canterbury Tales, his most famous work, was begun in 1387
- Other works include Parlement of Foules, Legend of Good Women, and The Book of Duchess
- No historical record of Chaucer after 1400; he is thought to have died soon after Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400) Monty Python - It is a British comedy group created by Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and the late Graham Chapman in 1969
- Their original show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974), was very successful and lead to touring stage shows, films, numerous albums, books, and even a Broadway musical
- Movies include: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974), Life of Brian (1979), and The Meaning of Life (1983)
- Comedy is often surreal, ridiculous, and very satirical in nature - Historical Background
- Use of satire
- Pilgrimage to Canterbury
- Unfinished:
- Chaucer only completed 24
- Some are only partial
-The pilgrims never reach Canterbury Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Historical Background
- Use of satire
- Quest for the Holy Grail
- Unfinished:
-The knights are kept from completing their quest and attaining the Holy Grail when modern day police arrive on the scene. One of the officers knock the camera over, abruptly ending the movie.
- No ending credits, but 9 minutes of organ music Canterbury Tales Comparing Canterbury Tales and Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Uses clothing to describe personality
- Prologues and tales: each knight has their own prologue and tale
- Similar characters
- Satirizes every character, though some do have some redeeming qualities Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Uses clothing to describe personality
- Prologues and tales: each character has his own prologue and tale
- Similar characters
- Satirizes almost all characters, but there are a few exceptions such as the plowman or the host The Canterbury Tales … - Began in Europe in 1328, lasted until 1351
Called "Black Death"- symptom of blackening skin around swellings on the skin
- Spread by fleas that were carried by rats and small rodents
- Nearly one third of European population died (200 million)
- Result: more importance placed on working class
- Europe became disillusioned with the church; ultimately led to English reformation The Black Plague - Chaucer speaks about the doctor making surplus of money due to it
- Chaucer is extremely critical of clergy and church figures The Plague in Context - Each character on pilgrimage has specific rank in society
- Some benefit from rising working class (like shipman) Feudal system - Prominent role on the pilgrimage
- Simple tunic with chain mail
- Higher than commoners in feudal system
- Fought in the crusades
- "To ride about the world, loved chivalry, truth, honor, freedom and all courtesy" (12) Knight - King Arthur is leader of hunt for holy grail
- Highest in the feudal order
- Also wears chain mail
- He appears honorable, just, and brave; however he is highly satirized for his stupidity and little knowledge of the lower classes
- Sir Lancelot also mirrors knight
-Considered the bravest, but he kills several innocent people at a wedding when he believes he is helping (just as knight in Crusades) King Arthur and Sir Lancelot - Son of the knight
- Wears short gown with long, wide sleeves, embroidered with flowers
- Sings, writes poems, dances
- "He was as fresh as in the month of May" (13) The Squire - Often mistaken for a girl
- believed to be a damsel in distress by Lancelot
- Loves to sing
- Does not want to marry under his father's arrangement
- Wear a short white gown with long sleeves Herbert - Abbey- head of convent
- Gracious host to several young girls, led daily worship, educated
- She is not the humble, chaste, or reserved as nuns are supposed to be
- Cared more for animals than the poor
- "For pity ruled her, and her tender heart"- (13) Nun- Prioress - Married five times- 3 good, 2 bad
- Wears red and has gap teeth- both symbolizing lust
- Uses body to control husbands
- Unaccompanied-defies feudal order; open challenge to male dominance
- "The remedies of love she knew, perchance, For of that art she'd learned the old, old dance" (24) Wife of Bath - Good hostess
- Seductress
- Facade of good, chaste, and hospitable nun
- Like the nun- good hostess, takes care of the young girls
- Like wife of bath- enjoys overpowering men Zoot - Hired by Church to hear confession and collect money for absolution
- Emphasizes bad image of Church
- Charges for viewing fake relics
- Revolting appearance, bulging eyes, feminine
- "And thus, with flattering and suchlike japes, he made the parson and the rest his apes" (31) Pardoner - Good friend with pardoner
- Delivers summons to those who commit public immorality
- Low social standing, relied on bribery for income
- Face has pimples of leprosy, he is smelly
- Obnoxious and dishonest, misuses Latin phrases to appear intelligent
- "He was a noble rascal, and a kind; A better comrade would be hard to find" (29) Summoner - Appears randomly throughout movie
- Has power to throw knights into the pit, controls bridge
- Asks questions he thinks are tricky, ends up being out-witted
- Pardoner- can grant salvation to those on the quest; abuses his power
- Summoner- can throw people into trouble (like court); disgusting appearance The Bridge Keeper - Speaks well, writes good contracts, knows his case by heart
“he could draw a contract so explicit; And every statute he’d verbatim quote (20)”
- The nobility and king even see his worth, appointing him as a judge
- Satire: Chaucer implies that he takes his job too seriously
- “Nowhere a man so busy of his class, And yet he seemed much busier than he was (20)” The Lawyer - Does his job: guards the bridge, good swordsmen
- King Arthur, sees his worth and asks him to join on his quest
- A fight commences when the Black Knight refuses to let Arthur pass
- Satire:
- Takes his job too seriously
- Bridge he guards is a short plank over a small stream, which Arthur could have been able to easily step over The Black Knight - Very smart, well educated, everything he says is intelligent
- “Not one word spoke he more than was his need; And that was said in fullest reverence And short and quick and full of good sense (19)”
- Colored in blue, symbolizing loyalty, and red, symbolizing faithfulness
- Book = Knowledge
- Tells a happy story, that pleases everyone
- Not a good character
- Spends all his money and time on his studies, never contributing to society The Clerk - Presented as the scientist and learned man of the group: mediates the argument over the witch, praised by Arthur, comes up with the idea of constructing and hiding in the wooden rabbit
- Wears blue, a symbol of loyalty
- Tree = knowledge
- Has a happy disposition
-He really is not smart at all
-Falsely declares the women a witch
- Wooden rabbit is a success, but he forgets the most crucial step- hiding in the rabbit
-Loyal and faithful to King Arthur Bedivere - Themes: chivalry, idea of a quest or journey, faithfulness to God, honor and loyalty
- Both have crass and obnoxious jokes
- Both have characters from legends or history, such as King Arthur
- Python was probably inspired by Chaucer
- Terry Jones, co-director and actor in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, wrote a book entitled Chaucer’s Knight (1980)
- Expert on medieval history
- Written many books and presented documentaries on medieval and ancient history
- His knowledge of medieval history and Chaucer’s tales certainly had an impact on the work Conclusion Works Cited Fogg, Adam. "Monty Python's Completely Useless Web Site." Monty Python's Completely Useless Web Site. N.p., 18 Feb. 1996. Web. 24 Dec. 2012. "Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340- 1400)." BBC.co.uk. BBC, n.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2012. Jokinen, Anniina. "Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400)." Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400). N.p., 1996. Web. 24 Dec. 2012. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Dir. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. Python (Monty) Pictures, Ltd., 1975. DVD. Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Ed. Paul Moliken. Clayton: Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Classics, 2009. Print. "Middle Ages History." MiddleAges.org.uk. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2013.
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