Canterbury Tales

Topics: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, Middle English Pages: 8 (2656 words) Published: April 5, 2011
The Canterbury Tales: Review
Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is considered as one of the major beginning marks in English Literature. The Canterbury Tales, written in 14th century is a collection of short stories mainly in verse form. The stories in The Canterbury Tales are told by a group of 24 pilgrims on pilgrimage from Southwark to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.

A Prologue to The Canterbury Tales introduces the major characters of the book. It also includes the 24 individual tales that vary in topics such as courtly love, treachery and avarice etc. There is no specific literary genre to include these tales as they vary from romance, Breton lai, sermon, beast fable and fabliaux. The tales cite the events in Middle English period with specific indications to John of Gaunt, Harry Bailly of the Tabard Inn and the political thoughts.

The Canterbury Tales is praised for its role in popularising the literary use of vernacular language in English. This unique work also gives specific knowledge about 'the occult' and astrological lore prevalent during the middle English period. The Canterbury Tales serves as a historic critique against society during Chaucer's time. The characters in The Canterbury Tales had real representations in the respective fields of work.

The Canterbury Tales is also not free from controversies. This literary piece was attacked for showing antisemitism ( Prejudice against Jews) in it. However the popularity of this majestic work wins over centuries. Many literary works based their theme on The Canterbury Tales as a homage.

The science fiction writer Dan Simmons wrote his Hyperion,based on The Canterbury Tales. Evolutionist Richard Dawkins used the structure of The Canterbury Tales for his evolution-The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution. Henry Dudeney published The Canterbury Puzzles that contains a part supposedly lost from the original text.

The Canterbury Tales has been variously adapted and adopted. The British television produced the animated versions of some tales. The renowned poet Pier Paolo Pasolini directed an Italian film based and titled on the poem in 1972. In 2001, Brian Helgeland directed the film A Knight's Tale based on The Knight's Tale in The Canterbury Tales. In 2004, BBC showed the modern re-tellings of selected tales. The Royal Shakespeare Company put forward a stage adaptation of the master work in 2005.

There is no doubt that the tales of The Canterbury Tales is relevant on the present day also. It will assure an enlightened reading for the literary aesthetics and those who understand the Middle English society.

Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer (pronounced /ˈtʃɔːsər/; c. 1343 – 25 October 1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular Middle English, rather than French or Latin.

The Canterbury Tales contrasts with other literature of the period in the naturalism of its narrative, the variety of stories the pilgrims tell and the varied characters who are engaged in the pilgrimage. Many of the stories narrated by the pilgrims seem to fit their individual characters and social standing, although some of the stories seem ill-fitting to their narrators, perhaps as a result of the incomplete state of the work. Chaucer drew on real life for his cast of pilgrims: the innkeeper shares the name of a contemporary keeper of an inn in Southwark, and real-life identities for the Wife of Bath, the Merchant, the Man of Law and the Student have been suggested. The many jobs that Chaucer held in medieval society—page, soldier, messenger, valet, bureaucrat, foreman and administrator—probably...
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