Costumes of Canterbury Tales
English Literature to 1800
May 9, 2013
The Costumes of the Characters in The Canterbury Tales
I. What I know from the reading.
In The Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims are from different social classes. These characters represent people in different social classes. When I was reading “General Prologue,” I found that these characters’ appearances are vividly described, especially for their costumes. It provoked my interest on medieval costumes. It starts form the Knight who has “Good horses but…wasn 't richly clad / [with] his fustian tunic [which] was a rusty sight / Where he had worn his hauberk” (line74-76). The knight has a youthful Squire who “[is] embroidered like a flowerbed /Or meadow, full of flowers white and red…and [his] gown was short, [while] his sleeves were long and wide.”(89-93) Lower than the Knight’s noble status, there are clergy among the pilgrims. I find the Monk “[whose] sleeves, I saw, were fur-lined at the hand / With gray fur of the finest in the land, / And fastening his hood beneath his chin. / There was a golden, finely crafted pin, / A love knot in the greater end for class.”(193-197) Also, a Friar “Dressed in a threadbare cope as students were, / But rather like a master or a pope./ He wore a double-worsted semicope/ As rounded as a church bell newly pressed.”(260-263)
Beside the clergy, I find that some of the middle class dress delicately and gorgeously. The bourgeoisie, earning fortune or educated well, enjoy the rising class status. For example, the Merchant, “[dressed] in a motley,” wears a “Flemish beaver hat…and boots most elegantly wrought.” (273-275) On the other hand, the costumes of those who are educated are plainer and simpler. For example, the Sergeant of the law “wore a simple multicolored coat/ Girt by a striped silk belt.” Also, the Physician “decked himself in scarlet and in azure, / With taffeta and silk.”(438-441)
When I move my eye to female characters, the lady
Cited: Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. Ecker, and Eugene J. Crook. London: HODGE & BRADDOCK, 1993. Print. Chaucer 's Pilgrims and Their Clothing. The Regents of the University of Michigan. Web. February 2011. Medieval Fashion Glossary. Romance Reader at Heart. Web. May 2010. Medieval clothing. Annenberg Learner. Web. January 2013.