The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

Name __________________ The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Student Reading Packet 1 of 12 FYI Geoffrey Chaucer: _____ - ____...
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The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales By Geoffrey Chaucer Student Reading Packet

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FYI Geoffrey Chaucer: _____ - ______ AKA “father of __________ _____________” • • • • • •

Mastered Latin, ______________, and _________________ Worked as a diplomat Translated literary works Served as a soldier in France and was captured and ransomed by his king Served his country loyally as a ____________, ___________, ___________, ___________ One of his most important contributions to English literature is his development of the resources of the English

English is his day: • French had displaced English for literary purposes (since Norman invasion) • By Chaucer’s day, English was coming into upper-class use again • Church Latin was still used in monasteries The Canterbury Tales Date: Language: Format: FRAME STORY Setting: *springtime pilgrimage to shrine of _________________________ Characters: *The journey allowed him to ______________________________. *Chaucer was able to present in his work a cross-section of three of the most important groups in his day (feudal, ecclesiastical (religious), urban) Feudal characters (related to the land) Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Franklin, Reeve, Miller, Plowman Ecclesiastical (medieval church) Parson, Summoner, Monk, Prioress, Friar, Pardoner, Student Urban (professional and mercantile laymen) Physician, Lawyer, Manciple, Merchant, Shipman, tradesman, Cook, Wife of Bath (a clothmaker) and the Inn Keeper The General Prologue 1. Chaucer begins the poem in the month of ______________. 2. What is it that he says people tend to do in this month? 3. Where do the people begin? 4. Chaucer writes that ________________ people (a company of sundry folk) fall into a fellowship.

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The Knight 1. What does Chaucer mean when he writes that the Knight is a “most distinguished man” who had “followed chivalry, / Truth, honour, generousness and courtesy”? 2. What proof does Chaucer give to how strong a warrior the Knight is? 3. From the Knight’s introduction, what can you tell about his character / nature? 4. Describe the Knight’s tunic. 5. The Knight’s purpose in joining this pilgrimage is to ___________________________________. Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Squire 1. What is the Squire’s relationship to the knight? ________________ 2. How is the Squire described by Chaucer? 3. The Squire’s motivation to do well in battle is so that he may win _______________. 4. How does the Squire’s attire compare with that of the Knight? 5. Chaucer says that the Squire “loved so hotly that till dawn grew pale / He slept as little as a nightingale.” What does he mean with these lines? Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Yeoman 1. Describe the Yeoman’s clothes. What (who) does this description remind you of? 2. How is the Yeoman’s head described? His face? 3. The Yeoman wears a/an ________________________________ on his breast and he carries a/an _______________________________ slung with a green cord. Quotation:

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The Nun (Prioress) 1. What is the irony behind the Nun being able to speak French? 2. Comment on the idea of the Nun’s tenderness in the following passage: “As for her sympathies and tender feelings, / She was so charitably solicitous / She used to week if she but saw a mouse / Caught in a trap, if it were dead or bleeding.”

3. The Nun’s motto is ‘_____________________________________,’ which means “______________________________________.” Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Monk 1. What is the Monk’s favorite pastime? ________________________ 2. How does the Monk ignore the rules of his order, thereby moving beyond their simple ways?

3. What features or descriptions of the Monk suggest that he has not truly sacrificed material (“earthly”) possessions, as men of his position are expected to do?



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The Friar 1. What is a Limiter? 2. What do you think Chaucer means when he says, “He’d fixed up many a marriage, giving each / Of his young women what he could afford her”?

3. In regards to confessions, what major crime is the Friar committing? 4. Chaucer describes the Friar’s neck as being ______________________________. 5. The Friar earns extra money by doing what? a. b. 6. Describe the sound of the Friar’s voice.

7. The Friar’s name is ________________________. 8. Friars are supposed to be imitating Christ. Does this Friar do anything of the sort? Defend your answer.



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The Merchant 1. How does each of the following elements of the Merchant’s dress suggest his affluence? a. His motley dress: b. His Flemish hat: c. His daintily buckled boots: 2. Describe the Merchant’s “special interest bias” with respect to his own business and government involvement.

3. The Merchant’s secret shame is that he is _____________________________. 4. What is the Merchant’s name? _________________________. Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Oxford Cleric 1. What two signs of poverty does the Cleric display? 2. The Cleric preferred to have ___________________________________________ by his bed than to have _____________________________________________________________. 3. How does the Cleric take advantage of his friends? How does he repay them?

4. How does Chaucer describe the Cleric’s speech? 5. What statement does Chaucer make that suggests the Cleric’s idealized role as a pilgrim in this journey? Quotation:


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The Sergeant at Law 1. How does Chaucer describe the reputation of the Sergeant at Law? 2. Chaucer gives two examples to illustrate how adept the Sergeant at Law is at his job: a. b. 3. How is the Sergeant at Law’s wealth demonstrated?


_____________________________________________ The Franklin 1. What is a Franklin? 2. What morning treat does the Franklin enjoy? 3. What does Chaucer mean when he refers to the Franklin as being “Epicurus’ very son”? 4. St. Julian is the patron saint of hospitality. How does the Franklin resemble this saint?

5. What line reveals that the Franklin is also a Parliamentary representative for his county?



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The Haberdasher, Dyer, Carpenter, Weaver, and Carpet-Maker 1. What do these men all have in common? a. b. 2. Comment on the tone that Chaucer uses to describe the attire of these men. 3. Each of these men is fit to be a/an ________________________________. Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Cook 1. What is unique about the Cook and his relationship to the other pilgrims? 2. The Cook’s talent is that he can distinguish _______________________________________. 3. What is the only physical trait given about the Cook? Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Skipper 1. What does it mean that the Skipper “rode a farmer’s horse as best he could”? 2. What hangs from the Skipper’s neck? 3. The Skipper’s main vices / crimes are: a. b. 4. Some of the places to which the Skipper has sailed are _____________________, _____________________, _____________________, and _____________________. 5. The Skipper’s ship is called ______________________________________. Quotation:

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The Doctor 1. How does Chaucer describe the Doctor’s proficiency in his field? 2. The Doctor refers to _________________________ as a source of information regarding his medical opinions. 3. This character serves to illustrate the conflicting ideas of _____________________ and science / medicine. 4. How has the Doctor grown rich through his practice? Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Wife of Bath 1. What major disability does the Wife of Bath suffer from? 2. Chaucer describes the Wife of Bath’s face as being _____________________ and ____________________, as well as being ______________________ in color. 3. How many husbands has she had? __________ 4. Why is it no surprise that the Wife of Bath is an expert on love? Quotation:

_____________________________________________ The Parson 1. Though the Parson is poor in financial terms, he is rich in ____________________. 2. Explain the Parson and how he feels about tithing and collecting tithes. 3. How steadily does the Parson go about his duties? 4. The Parson carries a/an _________________________ in his hand. 5. Explain what Chaucer means with these lines: “This noble example to his sheep he gave / That first he wrought, and afterwards he taught.” 6. What does the Parson not do that many church figures of his time were known for doing? a. b. c. 7. Chaucer says that the Parson is a shepherd, and not a/an _____________________________. Quotation:

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The Plowman 1. Who has come along with the Plowman? 2. What virtues of the Plowman does the narrator list? a. b. c. d. e. 3. The Plowman rides a/an ________________________.

______________________________________________ The Miller 1. Describe the physical appearance of the Miller: His build: His face: His beard: His nostrils: 2. What two examples of the Miller’s strength does Chaucer share? 3. How is the Miller an immoral person? 4. The Miller loves to play _____________________________. Quotation:

_____________________________________________ The Manciple 1. How does the Manciple gain such success at his job? 2. Why is it ironic that the Manciple is smarter than most of the lawyers he serves? 3. Compare the Manciple’s frugality with that of his masters. Quotation:

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The Reeve 1. What is a reeve? 2. How does Chaucer describe the following features of this old and choleric and thin man? His beard: His legs: His hair: 3. How do people who work under the Reeve feel about him? 4. What is the significance of the rusty blade that the Reeve carries? 5. Chaucer reveals the Reeve’s position in the caravan of pilgrims as being ________________________________. Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Summoner 1. Chaucer compares the Summoner’s face with that of a/an ___________________. 2. What features of his face cause children to be afraid when he appears? 3. How does the Summoner tend to act when he is intoxicated? 4. What does the motto ‘Questio quid juris’ mean? 5. Explain what Chaucer means when he says, “he’d allow—just for a quart of wine— / Any good lad to keep a concubine.” Quotation:


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The Pardoner 1. What physical traits are given about the Pardoner? His hair: His eyes: His voice: His face: 2. What does the Pardoner contain in his wallet? 3. What will the Pardoner do with the contents of his wallet? 4. What tone does Chaucer employ when he calls the Pardoner a “noble ecclesiast”? 5. Why does the Pardoner sing so merrily and loudly? Quotation:

______________________________________________ The Contest 1. Once Chaucer’s narrator has told about the rank, the array, the number, and the cause of their “assembly,” what two disclaimers does he give the reader? a. b. 2. Chaucer cites __________________________ and __________________________ as support for his argument to speak plainly and to tell the truth about the pilgrimage. 3. Why does the Host decide to have the pilgrims engage in telling various tales? 4. How many tales will each pilgrim tell? 5. The grand prize for the best tale will be ________________________________. 6. Who shall be the judge of the contest? 7. What will happen to anyone who breaks the rules or does not take part in the contest? 8. The pilgrim to tell the first tale is ______________________________. 12 of 12

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