1. The opening lines state the reasons for pilgrimage. First - to seek aid for sickness; secondly - weather is pleasant for a vacation; third - religious commitment. The second might possibly be the major reason.
2. The first pilgrim whom the reader meets is the narrator or persona (that character through whom the author speaks). In succinctly describing each character in his company, Chaucer with a few words states those details about the character which strikes him (impressionism). He carefully selects each detail to provide a realistic portrayal of character (verisimilitude). The reader, however, must decide for him/herself the attitude which the persona elicits from each character. In short, the reader must decide whom the narrator, the persona, enjoys and whom he discredits.
3. Irony, for the persona, is his na´ve approach to each character whom he meets. Chaucer, the author, is aware of the significance of what he says. The narrator, the na´ve persona, interprets the evidence presented in a way which the reader does not expect.
4. The persona is his own victim of irony and verisimilitude. He is the chief character, yet preČtends insignificance. In this way, the persona presents to the 20th century reader a complex, ironic, and comic serious vision of the medieval world through 30 characters.
1. Irony - a statement in which the actual meaning is opposite from the literal meaning.
2. Framed Tale - a story within a narrative frame
Host "Each one of you shall help to make things slip By telling two stories on the ortward trip To Canterbury . . ."
3. Persona -the character through whom the author speaks who expresses attitudes toward the characters and material in the work.
Chaucer "But none the less, while I have time and space, It seems a reasonable thing to say What their condition was . . ."
4. Impressionism - personal manner of writing in which the author presents characters as they appeal to his/her individual temperament, or painting a complete picture with only a few strokes.
Prioress "She certainly was very entertaining, Pleasant and . . .straining To counterfeit a courtly kind of grace."
5. Realism - a manner of presenting subjects as they actually are, not as they ought to be.
Friar "There was a Friar, a wanton one and merry."
6. Naturalism - world described seems bleak and hopeless; man is dehumanized, living a bestial existence.
Miller "A wart on which there stood a tuft of hair Red as the bristles in an old sow's ear."
7. Microcosm - literally a small world, revealing an entire social structure by a small selected cross-section.
Chaucer "It happened . . .as I lay Ready to go on pilgrimage Some nine and twenty in a company Of sundry folk . . .to fall in fellowship"
8. Journey motif - a method of organizing material around a literal journey or a psychological quest.
"They were pilgrims all That towards Canterbury meant to ride."
9. Verisimilitude - literally means pretending truth, a method of using historical or actual allusions to establish reality in a fictional piece.
Knight "Of honour, above all nations, when in Prussia. When, in Granada, Algeciras sank North Africa, raiding Benemarin;"
10. Stereotype - a character embodying only the conventional posing no individuality.
Parson "Yet he was rich in holy thought and work . . . Benign and wonderfully diligent."
Quotes about pilgrims
He should have an ulcer on his knee The sea should be kept free at any cost There was no such conveyancer as he (legal officer of the king) In his trunk he had a pillow-case which he asserted was Our Lady's veil Who from the day on which he first began to ride abroad had followed chivalry spoke daintily in French; No morsel from her lips did she let fall If, when he fought, the enemy vessel sank, he sent his prisoners home; they walked the plank Purchasing Agent He was a carpenter of first rate skill a lover and cadet a thumb of gold For he had carbuncles Many a dainty horse he had in stable; Greyhounds he had, as swift as birds to course For he was Epicurus's very son There is no finer burgess in Cheapside Their wives demanded to be called "Madam" Wore a medal of St. Christopher/dressed all in green Parson's brother He'd fixed up many a marriage, giving each of his young women what he could afford her. He preferred having 20 books to having fine clothes He therefore had a special love of gold She had gap-teeth, set widely If gold rusts, what then will iron do I'm short of wit as you will understand