The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story
The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story
by Geoffrey Chaucer
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The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Theme of Friendship

Among the Canterbury pilgrims we see varying versions of, and motivations for, friendship, ranging from similar interests to greed to obligations of friendship that are very different from those of today. All of these versions of friendship reflect upon the ultimate friendship in The Canterbury Tales, the fellowship of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. One of the Host's main goals is to keep the pilgrims in a state of easy fellowship with one another, which is why, in the course of the pilgrimage, questions arise about the proper behavior of a fellowship. Should members of fellowship engage in debate? How should they solve conflicts between members? And can just anyone belong to a fellowship? The conflicts that arise between the pilgrims as they travel suggest that, of all the ways one might make one's way to Canterbury, in "felaweshipe" is the most difficult of all.

Questions About Friendship

  1. What are some different versions of friendship we see in The Canterbury Tales? Compare and contrast the motivations for these friendships.
  2. What makes for an ideal fellowship in The Canterbury Tales? Do the pilgrims achieve this? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think the Host is the character who most often tries to promote fellowship among the pilgrims? What methods does he use to do so, and does he do a good job?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Canterbury Tales give an example of the creation of an ideal fellowship.

The Canterbury Tales give an example of the breakdown of an ideal fellowship.

Despite his attempts to promote fellowship among the Canterbury pilgrims, the Host is the character who most severely damages the fellow-feeling among them.

The Host is successful at promoting fellowship among the Canterbury pilgrims.

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