The Canterbury Tales Essay

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Geoffrey Chaucer is the author and writer of the Canterbury Tales. He is often called the father of English poetry; he made the English language respectable. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is a fourteenth century literary work that teaches students about the human character and contemporary English society. During Chaucer’s time the languages of literature, science, diplomacy, and religion were still in Latin and French. Many people during those times felt that English couldn’t possibly convey all the nuances and complexities of serious literature; but Chaucer changed the mines of many people by writing the Canterbury Tales. Chaucer composed in the vernacular- the everyday language spoken in London and the East Midlands. Chaucer lent respectability to a language that would develop into the medium for one the world’s greatest bodies of literature. The Canterbury Tales gives us a collection of good stories and a snapshot, a picture of life during the Middle Ages. Chaucer places his characters on a pilgrimage, a religious journey made to a shrine or holy place. These twenty nine pilgrims travel together on horseback from London to the shrine of the martyr Saint Thomas of Becket at the Canterbury Cathedral, about fifty-five miles to the southeast. This was a long journey to travel especially on horseback. A welcome relief for these pilgrims would always be an inn, even if it provided only a few luxuries. The poet- pilgrim narrator, whom many consider to be Chaucer himself, starts out at the Tabard Inn in Southwark. There he meets twenty-nine other pilgrims also bound for Canterbury. He suggests that the pilgrims tell one story coming and going to Canterbury and the one with the best tale will get free lodging at the inn. The Canterbury Tales containing many worldly elements is a literary version of a major Christian endeavor, the pilgrimage to a holy place. An

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