The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffery Chaucer, is full of fun characters and themes. Unfortunately, none of the raunchy tales are analyzed in this course.
The Framestory PlotEdit
It's springtime, and people are starting to plan pilgrimages to foreign holy lands and Canterbury, where the relics of St. Thomas Becket are located. The narrator decides to travel to Canterbury, and stays in the Tabard Inn in Southwark, encountering a company of other pilgrims there. He joins the group and they stay the night before departing.
The narrator describes the other twenty nine travelers before returning to the framestory.
The Host of the tavern compliments the pilgrims and proposes a free source of entertainment. The group unanimously votes for him to continue; he lays out his idea: each pilgrim will share two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. Whichever story is declared the best will earn the teller a meal paid for by the other pilgrims. The Host will accompany the group to judge. If anyone disagrees with his ruling, he or she must pay for the entire group's expenses.
The pilgrims choose straws; the Knight begins his tale.
Knight: "Just home from service, he had joined our ranks/To do his pilgrimage and render thanks."
Squire: "And had done valiantly in a little space/Of time, in hope to win his lady's grace."
Wife of Bath: "Her hose were of the finest scarlet red/ And gartered tight; her shoes were soft and new."
Parson: "Wide was his parish, with houses far asunder,/Yet he neglected not in rain or thunder,/In sickness of in grief, to pay a call/On the remotest, whether great or small"
Cook: "But what a pity - so it seemed to me,/That he should have an ulcer on his knee."
Yeoman: "A medal of St. Christopher he wore/Of shining silver on his breast, and bore/A hunting horn, well slung and bunished clean,/That dangled from a baldrick of bright green."
Monk: "Greyhounds he had, as swift as birds, to course./Hunting a hare or riding at a fence/Was all his fun, he spared for no expense."
Friar: "He had a special license from the Pope./Sweetly he heard his penitents at shrift/With pleasant absolution, for a gift."
Oxford Cleric: "He preferred having twenty books in red/And black, of Aristotle's philosophy,/Than costly clothes, fiddle or psaltery."
Miller: "A wrandler and buffoon, he had a store/Of tavern stories, filthy in the main./His was a master-hand of stealing grain."
Reeve: "He had a lovely dwelling on a heath,/Shadowed in green by trees above the sward/A better hand at bargains than his lord,/He had grown rich and had a store of treasure/Well tucked away"
Skipper: "He rode a farmer's horse as best he could,/In a woolen gown that reached his knee."
Nun: "She certainly was entertaining,/Pleasant and friendly in her ways, and straining/To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace."
Pardoner: "He had a cross of metal set with stones/And, in a glass, a rubble of pig bones."
Doctor: "Yet he was rather close to his expenses/And kept the gold he won in pestilences,/Gold stimulates the heart, or so we're told./He therefore had a special love of gold."
Merchant: "He was expert at dabbling in exchanges./This estimable person so had set/His wits to work, none knew he was in debt."
Plowman: "He paid his tithes in full when they were due/On what he owned, and on his earnings too."
Franklin: "And in his hall a table stood arrayed/And ready all day long, with places laid./As Justice at the Sessions none stood higher;/He often had been Member for the Shire."
Sergeant at the Law: ""Though there was nowhere one so busy as he,/He was less busy than he seemed to be./He knew of every judgement, case and crime/Ever recorded since King William's time."
The Pardoner's Tale