The Characters in The Canterbury Tales

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The Purpose of the Characters in The Canterbury Tales The characters introduced in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales each represent a stereotype of a kind of person that Chaucer would have been familiar with in 14th Century England. Each character is unique, yet embodies many physical and behavioral traits that would have been common for someone in their profession. In preparing the reader for the tales, Chaucer first sets the mood by providing an overall idea of the type of character who is telling the tale, then allows that character to introduce themselves through a personal prologue and finally, the pilgrim tells their tale. Through providing the reader with insight about the physical and personal traits of the pilgrim and then allowing that person to come to life and tell an animated story, the reader is more prepared for the story as well as able to relate the physical description to the telling of the story. The physical and personal descriptions of the Miller, the Wife of Bath and the Merchant all aid in the telling of their tales. Chaucer was able to create tales that were perfectly suited for the characters that are presenting them. In having each tale told by someone who has a personal reason or motivation for telling that specific tale, Chaucer creates more of a reaction from the reader as well as provides the entire work with structure. The Miller is large and imposing person who personifies a crooked, but likeable businessman. In "The General Prologue," Chaucer describes the Miller as having a "thombe of gold, (563)" which the footnote on page 32 of The Riverside Chaucer notes, "is an ironic reference to a proverb, with the implication that there are no honest millers." The descr... ... middle of paper ... and equally entertaining story. Works Cited Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales: Riverside Chaucer Third Edition. Ed. Larry D. Benson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company,1987. 3-328 Secondary Arrathoon, Leigh A. "For craft is al, whoso that do it kan: The Genre of the Merchant's Tale," Chaucer and the Craft of Fiction. Ed. Leigh A. Arrathoon, Rochester, Michigan: Solaris Press, Inc. 1986. 241-318 Beidler, Peter G. "Chaucer's Wife of Bath's 'Foot-Mantel' and Her 'Hipes Large'" Chaucer Review Vol: 34, Issue: 4. April 01, 2000. 388-397 Taavitsainen, Irma. "Personality and styles of Affect in the Canterbury Tales" Chaucer in Perspective. Ed. Geoffrey Lester.Midsomer North, Bath: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd. 1999. 218-232 White, Annie "Feminism or Anti-Feminism: Images of Women in Chaucer's 'The Wife of Bath,'" 20 Jan. 2001.
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