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The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story


by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Time Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.

Quote #1

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote
(General Prologue 1 – 2)

For everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (Turn, turn, turn.) Yeah, you know the song, and it's basically making the same point as the first fourteen lines of The Canterbury Tales. These lines tell us that there's a particular time of year when people want to go on pilgrimages. They describe just what that time of year that is: namely, spring. The point seems to be that spring is a time for beginnings, like the beginning of a journey which is the beginning of repentance (and the beginning of this poem).

Quote #2

And shortly, whan the sonne was to reste,
So hadde I spoken with hem everichon
(General Prologue 30 – 31)

This is the first instance of something that happens constantly in the frame story of the Tales, which is the obsessive detailing of exactly what time it was when something happened.

Quote #3

But natheles, whyl I have tyme and space,
Er that I ferther in this tale pace,
Me thinketh it acordaunt to resoun
To telle yow al the condicioun
Of ech of hem, so as it semed me
(General Prologue 35 – 39)

Here, Chaucer is referring not to time as it's passing in the story, but to narrative time, the amount of time and space it takes him to say what he wants to say. Just as the Host is always worried that time is passing too quickly, Chaucer and many of the other characters are often concerned that they're going to take up too much narrative time and space.

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