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Place each pilgrim in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales within one of these three groups that...

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lexislhs2012 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 28, 2012 at 3:21 AM via web

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Place each pilgrim in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales within one of these three groups that comprised medieval society: the feudal system (related to the land or aristocracy); the church; and the city.

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 28, 2012 at 4:17 AM (Answer #1)

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For those pilgrims whose lives are affected by the feudal system--that is, may ultimately owe military service to a lord--I would include the Knight, the Squire (the knight's son and candidate for knighthood), and the Franklin (a landowner, usually in a rural setting, one level below the aristocracy but part of the feudal system).

Pilgrims who have religious responsibilities include the Friar, Summoner (a secular official of some ecclesiastical courts), Clerk (although he could be part of the city group, he's most likely to become part of the religious establishment--for example, his tale is highly moral), Pardoner, Prioress, Monk, Nun's Priest, Second Nun, Canon's Yeoman (part of the religious group by default as the servant of a Canon), Parson.

Those pilgrims in the city group include the Miller, Reeve (functions as the overseer of an estate, sometimes as a sheriff), Cook, Man-of-Law, Wife of Bath, Merchant, Physician, Shipman, Manciple (usually worked in the Inns of Court as a steward).

Chaucer himself could go either into the city group or the feudal group, but I would argue that, given what we know of his background, he fits well into the feudal group.  We believe Chaucer spent a good part of his life as a diplomat and negotiator for the government and Court, and he therefore would have some level of feudal responsibility.

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