Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1343-1400)
The Canterbury Tales
General Things to Consider:
Terms to Know:
- Characterization: Relative "Goodness" and "Badness"
- Piety vs. Hypocrisy
- Generational Differences
- Relation of Story to Storyteller
- Definition of Character Titles
- frame tale (198)
- fabliau (199/221)
- estates satire (200)
- What were the three "estates" of medieval society?
- How, according to the editors, did the growing middle class
begin to blur traditional class boundaries?
The Canterbury Tales:
- When do people tend to go on pilgrimages? Why?
- How are the Knight and the Squire different?
- Is the Prioress described like a "typical" nun?
- What does "Amor vincit omnia" (162) mean?
- Explain: The Friar "was an esy man to yive penaunce, /
Ther as he wiste to have a good pitaunce" (223-24).
- How does the Plowman compare to his brother, the Parson?
- Whose idea is it to tell tales? Why?
Other Discussion Questions:
- What is a controller of customs?
- What language was English courtly poetry written in during
Chaucer's early adulthood? Why?
- In what ways, according to the editors, were Chaucer's
- How, according to the editors, is Chaucer's "artistic
exploitation" of the framing device in The Canterbury Tales particularly unique?
- How, according to the editors, is Chaucer's prologue
distinguished from more conventional estates satire?
- How do all the pilgrims here meet?
- How is the Monk one who "heeld after the newe world the space"
- Why does the Friar know barmaids better than lepers?
Should things be otherwise? Explain.
- Explain the symbolic significance of this description of the
Oxford student: "Ful thredbare was his overeste courtepy"
- What is a Franklin?
- Who is Epicurus?
- On what field is the Physician's (Doctor of Physik's) medical
- Who was Ipocras (Hippocrates)?
- What do gaps in a woman's teeth signify?
- How does the Parson compare to the Friar?
- What is a Manciple? a Miller? a Reeve? a
Summoner? a Pardoner?
- What kind of character does the Manciple have?
- Describe the Summoner's appearance. Does it fit his
- Explain this reference to the Pardoner: "I trowe he
were a gelding or a mare" (693).
- What does the Pardoner carry with him? Why?
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