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

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Analysis

Literary Devices in The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The pilgrimage begins in the spring, "whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote / The droghte of March hath perced to the roote" (General Prologue 1 – 2). Since this is the beginning of the po...

Setting

Chaucer likely wrote The Canterbury Tales in the late 1380s and early 1390s, after his retirement from life as a civil servant, and this is when he sets the action. This was a time of great social...

Narrator Point of View

The character of Chaucer serves as our guide to the action. Sometimes Chaucer narrates like he's really there in the tavern, just meeting these pilgrims for the first time, and we feel like we're r...

Genre

Although the genre of the individual tales varies, the goal of the frame story is pretty clearly to tickle our funny bones and satirize the quirks of various pilgrims, and social estates. So we get...

Tone

As a narrator, Chaucer shifts between appearing very naïve (i.e., inexperienced and way too ready to believe whatever anyone tells him) and approaching his subjects with heavy irony, or knowle...

Writing Style

The style of The Canterbury Tales is characterized by rhyming couplets. That means that every two lines rhyme with each other. It's also in iambic pentameter (the same style as Shakespeare), meanin...

What's Up With the Title?

Chaucer and his early scribes actually called his collection The Tales of Canterbury. The name by which we now know it, The Canterbury Tales, was a change made by the collection's later publishers....

What's Up With the Ending?

Chaucer ends The Canterbury Tales with an address to his readers and to God. Using what literary types refer to as "the humility topos," he tells his readers to thank Jesus if they enjoyed his book...

Tough-o-Meter

The Canterbury Tales are in Middle English. We're not going to lie to you – Middle English is really hard to read. At first. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of studying pronunciation guides...

Plot Analysis

A group of pilgrims have gathered in a tavern just outside of London in preparation for their journey to Canterbury. There, our narrator Chaucer meets them and becomes one of their fellowship.This...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Comedy

Chaucer describes the Pilgrims gathered at the tavern in Southwark.So many of Chaucer's pilgrims are not what they appear or what, in a perfect world, they would be. The Pardoner pretends to be a h...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Act I lasts from the beginning of the story until the moment when the characters agree to the Host's proposal of a tale-telling competition.When the characters take oaths to engage in a tale-tellin...

Trivia

Geoffrey Chaucer's father, John, was a vintner, or wine-maker. (Riverside Chaucer, "Introduction," xvi.)One quarter of Chaucer's tales closely resemble a tale from Boccaccio's Decameron. (Helen Coo...

Steaminess Rating

There's lots of talk about sex in the General Prologue and frame story of The Canterbury Tales, but very little action. For that you have to go to bawdy stories like the Miller's or the Reeve's tal...

Allusions

Benedict, Rule of St Benedict (General Prologue 173)Augustine of Hippo (General Prologue 187)Aristotle (General Prologue 295) Seneca (Man of Law's Introduction 25)Ovid, Epistles (Heroides) (Man of...

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