Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Characters

The Host

The Host is the major mover and shaker of the frame story of The Canterbury Tales, since it's he...

Chaucer (The Narrator)

Since Chaucer filters all of the action that occurs through his by turns credulous and satirical...

The Knight

Look up in the sky! It's a bird…it's a plane…it's SUPER KNIGHT! Seriously, this guy...

The Squire

The Squire is the Knight's son, accompanying him on this pilgrimage. We think he's a pretty good...

The Yeoman

The Knight travels with only one servant, or yeoman, and one who looks like Robin Hood....

The Prioress

The Prioress is trying to be very, well, dainty. She has all these funny habits, like singing...

The Monk

The Monk, Chaucer tells us, is a manly man. The Monk's favorite past-time is hunting, and to this...

The Friar

Like the Prioress and the Monk, the Friar is a not-so-pious religious figure. But his sins are...

The Merchant

We know the merchant is the fashionista of the group because he's wearing a cloak of "motley"...

The Clerk

Aww, the poor Clerk. Literally. This guy's so poor that he can't even afford to feed himself, let...

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...

The Franklin

A "franklin" is a gentry landowner, a member of the nobility. One of the most important...

The Tradesmen

Chaucer chooses to group these five tradesmen – a hat and accessories dealer (Haberdasher),...

The Cook

The Cook's portrait starts out well enough, and then gets really disgusting. We learn that the...

The Shipman

The Shipman is not someone you'd want to meet in a dark alley in the dead of night. He's the...

The Physician

The Physician is a very learned man, having read all of the important medical authorities of his...

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,...

The Parson

A parson is a parish priest, and with this Parson we get an exemplary one. Unlike the Friar or...

The Plowman

The Plowman is just as holy and virtuous as his brother the Parson. Living a simple life of hard...

The Miller

Most of the description we get of the Miller is intensely physical and kind of, well, disgusting....

The Manciple

A manciple is someone who's in charge of purchasing food and supplies for an institution like a...

The Reeve

A reeve is a manager of someone's estate or farm. This reeve is also a carpenter, which leads to...

The Summoner

A summoner is someone the medieval church hires to call people before the ecclesiastical court...

The Pardoner

With blonde hair that he wears long, in the "newe jet," or style, and a smooth, hairless face,...

The Canon and Canon's Yeoman

Near the end of the Tales, at "Boughton under the blee," two mysterious strangers begin riding...