Excerpt From this Document
Physiognomy – a person’s physical appearance and the relationship between that physical appearance and a person’s personality and character (judging a person by his/her features).
red-headed = quick-tempered
buxom = jolly
broad forehead = intelligence, good breeding
very thin = stringy, bad-tempered
neat = proud
wearing red = aggressive
wearing black = melancholy
wearing blue = constant in love
wearing green = lightness in love, envy
gapped teeth = bold, aggressive, traveler, amorous
white neck = sign of licentiousness (promiscuousness)
Psychological Theory of Chaucer’s Time: Astrology-based. This theory gave the planets in a person’s horoscope at birth and their positions at different times in life.
People in Chaucer’s time believed that four body humors (or moistures) were the source of disease and personality types, much like we think of glands and genes today. The body fluids, or humors, of which man is composed—blood, phlegm, choler (bile), and melancholy (black bile) with their “qualities” of hot, cold, dry, and moist—determined character and behavior.
About this Document
This handout accompanies The Canterbury Tales Character Assignment I uploaded. It helps explain the understanding of people that Chaucer's times held (i.e., he's got a broad forehead because he's smart, or she's got gapped teeth because she's aggressive, etc.).