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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Characters

Meet the Cast

The Host

The Host is the major mover and shaker of the frame story of The Canterbury Tales, since it's he who proposes the tale-telling game and directs it on the way to Canterbury. We get the impression th...

Chaucer (The Narrator)

Since Chaucer filters all of the action that occurs through his by turns credulous and satirical narrative voice, we learn the most about his character from the way he describes other pilgrims. Som...

The Knight

Look up in the sky! It's a bird…it's a plane…it's SUPER KNIGHT! Seriously, this guy is one perfect knight. If there's been a battle in the past twenty years, chances are good he was the...

The Squire

The Squire is the Knight's son, accompanying him on this pilgrimage. We think he's a pretty good squire; after all, Chaucer tells us that he rides a horse well, can joust well, and he carves the me...

The Yeoman

The Knight travels with only one servant, or yeoman, and one who looks like Robin Hood. Seriously, this guy is dressed all in green and decked out with a bow and arrows, a dagger, and a sword. His...

The Prioress

The Prioress is trying to be very, well, dainty. She has all these funny habits, like singing through her nose, speaking incorrect French, and eating so carefully that she never spills a drop. She...

The Monk

The Monk, Chaucer tells us, is a manly man. The Monk's favorite past-time is hunting, and to this end he keeps gorgeous (and probably expensive) horses and greyhounds. Like the Prioress, the Monk i...

The Friar

Like the Prioress and the Monk, the Friar is a not-so-pious religious figure. But his sins are all the more reprehensible because friars, more than any other religious group, were pledged to a life...

The Merchant

We know the merchant is the fashionista of the group because he's wearing a cloak of "motley" (variegated, colorful pattern), a Flemish beaver hat, and has a forked beard, all of which were current...

The Clerk

Aww, the poor Clerk. Literally. This guy's so poor that he can't even afford to feed himself, let alone his horse, who's as skinny as a rake. The Clerk's clothes are threadbare on his emaciated bod...

The Sergeant of the Law

The Sergeant of the Law is the medieval version of a lawyer, and a pretty good one if Chaucer is to be believed. How do we know he's good at what he does? Well, he does all the things lawyers are s...

The Franklin

A "franklin" is a gentry landowner, a member of the nobility. One of the most important obligations of this social role is to provide generous hospitality, and nobody fulfills this role better than...

The Tradesmen

Chaucer chooses to group these five tradesmen – a hat and accessories dealer (Haberdasher), carpenter, weaver (Webbe), cloth-dyer, and rug/tapestry maker (Tapycer), respectively – toget...

The Cook

The Cook's portrait starts out well enough, and then gets really disgusting. We learn that the Cook has a fairly decent repertoire of dishes and cooking techniques: he can cook a chicken in spices,...

The Shipman

The Shipman is not someone you'd want to meet in a dark alley in the dead of night. He's the quintessential bad boy – an unsavory type who heeds no law or conscience. If he beats you in a fig...

The Physician

The Physician is a very learned man, having read all of the important medical authorities of his day. Not only that, but he's also something of an astrologer, relying upon the positions of the star...

The Wife of Bath

The Wife of Bath is larger than life. With broad hips, a big butt, and a hat as big as a boat, she takes up a lot of space in the pilgrimage and in the poem as a whole. The Wife is dressed expensiv...

The Parson

A parson is a parish priest, and with this Parson we get an exemplary one. Unlike the Friar or the Monk, who fail to practice what they preach, the Parson lives the Gospel he teaches by being holy...

The Plowman

The Plowman is just as holy and virtuous as his brother the Parson. Living a simple life of hard labor, the Plowman has to do the dirtiest jobs of the medieval world, like load carts full of cow ma...

The Miller

Most of the description we get of the Miller is intensely physical and kind of, well, disgusting. He's huge, with a red beard, wide black nostrils, a gaping mouth, and (gross-out alert!) a wart on...

The Manciple

A manciple is someone who's in charge of purchasing food and supplies for an institution like a school, monastery or law court. This particular manciple works for an inn of court (the "temple"), wh...

The Reeve

A reeve is a manager of someone's estate or farm. This reeve is also a carpenter, which leads to trouble when the Miller tells a tale insulting carpenters, but most of the Reeve's portrait focuses...

The Summoner

A summoner is someone the medieval church hires to call people before the ecclesiastical court for their spiritual crimes, like adultery or heresy, the punishment for which can be excommunication (...

The Pardoner

With blonde hair that he wears long, in the "newe jet," or style, and a smooth, hairless face, it's no wonder that Chaucer "trowe [the Pardoner] were a geldyng or a mare" (General Prologue 693) ...

The Canon and Canon's Yeoman

Near the end of the Tales, at "Boughton under the blee," two mysterious strangers begin riding toward the group of pilgrims. When they arrive, the pilgrims can see that their horses are all lathere...
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