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Table of Contents Context The Canterbury Tales is the most famous and critically acclaimed work of Geoffrey Chaucer, a late-fourteenth-century English poet.
Chaucer was born in London in the early s, the only son in his family. For most of his life, Chaucer served in the Hundred Years War between England and France, both as a soldier and, since he was fluent in French and Italian and conversant in Latin and other tongues, as a diplomat.
In or aroundChaucer began to develop his vision of an English poetry that would be linguistically accessible to all—obedient neither to the court, whose official language was French, nor to the Church, whose official language was Latin.
Instead, Chaucer wrote in the vernacular, the English that was spoken in and around London in his day. Undoubtedly, he was influenced by the writings of the Florentines Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, who wrote in the Italian vernacular.
Even in England, the practice was becoming increasingly common among poets, although many were still writing in French and Latin. Money, provisions, higher appointments, and property eventually allowed him to retire on a royal pension. Canterbury essaythe king appointed Chaucer Controller of the Customs of Hides, Skins and Wools in the port of London, which meant that he was a government official who worked with cloth importers.
His experience overseeing imported cloths might be why he frequently describes in exquisite detail the garments and fabric that attire his characters. Chaucer held the position at the customhouse for twelve years, after Canterbury essay he left London for Kent, the county in which Canterbury is located.
He served as a justice of the peace for Kent, living in debt, and was then appointed Clerk of the Works at various holdings of the king, including Canterbury essay and the Tower of London. After he retired in the early s, he seems to have been working primarily on The Canterbury Tales, which he began around By the time of his retirement, Chaucer had already written a substantial amount of narrative poetry, including the celebrated romance Troilus and Criseyde.
They had at least two sons together. Philippa was the sister to the mistress of John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster. Whether or not Chaucer had an extramarital affair is a matter of some contention among historians.
In a legal document that dates froma woman named Cecily Chaumpaigne released Chaucer from the accusation of seizing her raptusthough whether the expression denotes that he raped her, committed adultery with her, or abducted her son is unclear.
Chaucer lived through a time of incredible tension in the English social sphere. Consequently, the labor force gained increased leverage and was able to bargain for better wages, which led to resentment from the nobles and propertied classes. These classes received another blow inwhen the peasantry, helped by the artisan class, revolted against them.
The merchants were also wielding increasing power over the legal establishment, as the Hundred Years War created profit for England and, consequently, appetite for luxury was growing.
The merchants capitalized on the demand for luxury goods, and when Chaucer was growing up, London was pretty much run by a merchant oligarchy, which attempted to control both the aristocracy and the lesser artisan classes.
But, instead of tales, the text ends after twenty-four tales, and the party is still on its way to Canterbury. Chaucer either planned to revise the structure to cap the work at twenty-four tales, or else left it incomplete when he died on October 25, Other writers and printers soon recognized The Canterbury Tales as a masterful and highly original work.
By the English Renaissance, poetry critic George Puttenham had identified Chaucer as the father of the English literary canon. In contrast, Old English the language of Beowulf, for example can be read only in modern translation or by students of Old English. The best way for a beginner to approach Middle English is to read it out loud.
When the words are pronounced, it is often much easier to recognize what they mean in modern English. Most Middle English editions of the poem include a short pronunciation guide, which can help the reader to understand the language better.
For particularly difficult words or phrases, most editions also include notes in the margin giving the modern versions of the words, along with a full glossary in the back.
Several online Chaucer glossaries exist, as well as a number of printed lexicons of Middle English. The line numbering in The Riverside Chaucer does not run continuously throughout the entire Canterbury Tales, but it does not restart at the beginning of each tale, either.
Instead, the tales are grouped together into fragments, and each fragment is numbered as a separate whole. Nobody knows exactly in what order Chaucer intended to present the tales, or even if he had a specific order in mind for all of them.
Eighty-two early manuscripts of the tales survive, and many of them vary considerably in the order in which they present the tales. However, certain sets of tales do seem to belong together in a particular order.
For instance, the General Prologue is obviously the beginning, then the narrator explicitly says that the Knight tells the first tale, and that the Miller interrupts and tells the second tale.
These sections between the tales are called links, and they are the best evidence for grouping the tales together into ten fragments. But The Canterbury Tales does not include a complete set of links, so the order of the ten fragments is open to question.
The Riverside Chaucer bases the order of the ten fragments on the order presented in the Ellesmere manuscript, one of the best surviving manuscripts of the tale. Some scholars disagree with the groupings and order of tales followed in The Riverside Chaucer, choosing instead to base the order on a combination of the links and the geographical landmarks that the pilgrims pass on the way to Canterbury.A short Geoffrey Chaucer biography describes Geoffrey Chaucer's life, times, and work.
Also explains the historical and literary context that influenced The Canterbury Tales. Titles from Open Response Questions* Updated from an original list by Norma J. Wilkerson. Works referred to on the AP Literature exams since (specific years in parentheses).
The Canterbury Tales Essay Interconnections between Characters in the Canterbury Tales There are numerous inter-connections between tales in The Canterbury Tales.
The Canterbury Tales Essay Examples. total results. Are the Characters of Pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales Stereotypes or Fully Developed Characters? 2, words.
5 pages. An Analysis of the Issue of Sexism and Male Hatred of Women in the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. 1, words.
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