Analysis Of The General Prologue To The Canterbury Tales Essay

Analysis Of The General Prologue To The Canterbury Tales Essay

Length: 1046 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Good Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Religion has long since been an important factor in society, changing and evolving throughout the centuries. In medieval Europe, religious pilgrimages were a crucial part of ones religious faith. Often every one in society, from the highest of class to the lowest order was involved in this practice. Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most important writers in English literature, was the author of The Canterbury Tales, an elaborate poem about the religious pilgrimage of twenty nine people to Canterbury. In the "General Prologue" Chaucer introduces each individual along for the journey. Through The Canterbury Tales, we discover the hypocrisy and virtues Chaucer narrates in his characters and can appreciate the nuances in this superior piece of literature.
Geoffrey Chaucer, born in London in 1340 began his love affair with literature in his late 20's. Chaucer wrote his first book in 1368, Book of the Duchess and soon after traveled to northern France to serve in the army of John of Gaunt. Chaucer then went through a series of events ware he was eventually named a member of parliament. He began writing The Canterbury Tales in 1387 and was never completely finished. A series of poems he had written before this time were also adapted to fit into The Canterbury Tales, such as Palamon and Arcite which was later adapted as The Knights Tale. Chaucer died on October 25, 1400 and is buried in Westminster Abbey and is believed to be the first person buried in what is known as the "Poets Corner".
The "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales is a crucial part of the poem, because it first identifies the reader with the individuals that will be going on the pilgrimage to Canterburry. It narrates the gathering of the pilgrims at the Tabard Inn at ...


... middle of paper ...


...rey Chaucer comments on moral corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. He criticizes many high-ranking members of the Church and describes a lack of morality in medieval society; yet in the "Retraction," Chaucer recants much of his work and pledges to be true to Christianity. Seemingly opposite views exist within the "Retraction" and The Canterbury Tales. However, this contradiction does not weaken Chaucer's social commentary. Rather, the "Retraction" emphasizes Chaucer's criticism of the Church and society in The Canterbury Tales by reinforcing the risk inherent in doing so.

Works Cited
Hinckley, Henry B. Notes on Chaucer. New York: Haskell House, 1964.
Ingraham, Andrew, ed. Chaucer's Prologue to the Book of the Tales of Canterbury.
London: The Macmillan Company, 1905.
Owen, Charles A., ed. Discussions of the Canterbury Tales. Westport:
GreenWood, 1978.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Rhetorical Analysis Of John Chaucer 's ' The Canterbury Tales ' Essay

- “Every poet arrives at some sense of how language works. Chaucer 's engagement, like that of the greatest literary figures, goes beyond the brilliant, skillful use of language as a tool of expression, beyond what we usually call 'talent, '" note academics Douglas Wurtele, David Williams, and Robert Myles. They eloquently phrase the wit and mechanics adeptly applied by Chaucer in his forging of a new written language. Not only does he manage to forge this language, but he uses his academic wit and knowledge to critique and criticize the two most sacred institutions of his day....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue]

Good Essays
1200 words (3.4 pages)

Analysis Of ' The General Prologue ' Essay

- Yongzheng Qi Professor Benjamin J Philippi English 201 16 September 2015 Irony in the General Prologue In The General Prologue, Chaucer’s narrator depicts a number of pilgrimages who represent different estates: the chivalrous and righteous Knight, the fashionable young Squire in the military estate; the graceful and merciful Prioresse, the rich Monk who breaks down the tradition, the slick Friar in the clergy estate; the indebted Merchant, the knowledgeable Clerk in the professional estate. That group of people reflects the contemporary situation of the whole English society....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, Nobility]

Good Essays
978 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Chaucer 's ' The Canterbury Tales '

- An Analysis of Chaucer’s Friar in the Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer 's, The Canterbury Tales, is one of the most admired and well-known stories in literature. It is so successful in the world of literature because of Chaucer’s descriptions of the characters, the tales, and also because of his creative and clever writing style. In the General Prologue to the tales, Chaucer introduces the Friar as a greedy profiteer. As the prologue progresses, Chaucer describes each pilgrim 's appearance and character traits in vivid details....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer]

Good Essays
1876 words (5.4 pages)

The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

- Geoffrey Chaucer is, to this day, one of the most famous Middle-English writers. His view of corrupt societies and how things "may not always be as they seem" was incredibly accurate and has even carried over its accuracy into the modern era. His writings are highly controversial and bring out the faults in the most conservative aspects of society—especially when it comes to sexism and the church. In The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, he speaks about 31 people going on a pilgrimage. The entire selection is heavily weighted and based on one key thing, which is how it is structured....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer]

Good Essays
1175 words (3.4 pages)

William Chaucer 's The Canterbury Tales Essay

- Many scholars and intellectual thinkers alike, from every corner of the world, have thoroughly studied the renowned work of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The examination and analysis of the relationship between the character’s descriptions in the general prologue and the themes and elements of their tales, is among the most fascinating of all open discussions about the distinguished text. Particular tales told in Chaucer’s work are presented as direct reflections of the depictions of the characters telling them, and other verbal stories can be argued to go completely against their teller’s characterization....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue, Marriage]

Good Essays
1393 words (4 pages)

Essay about Contradictions in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

- Contradictions in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales There is no question that contradictory values make up a major component of The Canterbury Tales. Fate vs. Fortuna, knowledge vs. experience and love vs. hate all embody Chaucer's famous work. These contrasting themes are an integral part of the complexity and sophistication of the book, as they provide for an ironic dichotomy to the creative plot development and undermine the superficial assumptions that might be made. The combination of completely contradictory motifs leads to the unusual stories and outcomes that come to play out in the tales....   [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays]

Good Essays
3890 words (11.1 pages)

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay

- Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a collection of several tales that are all told by different characters and all convey different messages. The story presented in the general prologue is that a group of pilgrims is traveling to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, and during their journey they take turns telling tales and talking about themselves. Chaucer uses the pilgrims to express his beliefs, about religion, marriage, social class, and many other topics. One of the pilgrims is the Manciple, who is a commoner and has the job of providing supplies for an institution and in this case, he is the caterer for a group of lawyers....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Tales, Characters]

Good Essays
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Chaucer 's Use Of Satire : The General Prologue, Pardoner 's Tale, And The Wife Of Bath

- Chaucer’s Use of Satire (An in depth analysis into the General Prologue, Pardoner 's Tale, and the Wife of Bath) What does it mean for literature to be characterized as a type of satire. According to Oxford Dictionaries, “Satire, is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.” There are countless examples of how satire has enabled great writers a way to achieve their ultimate goals....   [tags: The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue]

Good Essays
1115 words (3.2 pages)

The Canterbury Essay

- The Canterbury As April comes, the narrator begins a pilgrimage to Canterbury from the Tabard Inn at Southwerk. Twenty-nine people make the pilgrimage toward Canterbury and the narrator describes them in turn. The pilgrims are listed in relative order of status, thus the first character is the Knight. Chaucer describes the knight as a worthy man who had fought in the Crusades. With him is a Squire, the son of the Knight and a 'lusty bachelor' of twenty. The Knight has a second servant, a Yeoman....   [tags: Canterbury Tales Knights Essays]

Free Essays
1417 words (4 pages)

Essay on The Canterbury Tales

- By offering the reader the choice to read on or to find another tale, the narrator includes the reader in the narrative as someone who is either already disciplined, and so will choose another story, or included in the category of shame created for the Miller: “narrator and reader can choose to identify as subjects in process, performing at times contradictory public and private functions” (226). For Burger, this is a moment that reveals The Canterbury Tales’ work as the foundation of modern English: The narrator's interjection echoes the queer performativity of the Miller and his tale by inserting the modernizing effects of textuality, thereby resisting the universalizing “now” of tradition...   [tags: Literary Analysis, Murphy]

Good Essays
2603 words (7.4 pages)