- The Host
- Chaucer (The Narrator)
- The Knight
- The Squire
- The Yeoman
- The Prioress
- The Monk
- The Friar
- The Merchant
- The Clerk
- The Sergeant of the Law
- The Franklin
- The Tradesmen
- The Cook
- The Shipman
- The Physician
- The Wife of Bath
- The Parson
- The Plowman
- The Miller
- The Manciple
- The Reeve
- The Summoner
- The Pardoner
- The Canon and Canon's Yeoman
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Meet the Cast
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...
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 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 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 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, 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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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'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 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 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...
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 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...
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...
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...
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...
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 (...
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...