Readers can gain a valuable cultural and social understanding from the interesting cross-section of people introduced in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This unique setting of the pilgrimage allows a representative cross section of the peoples of the day. Rarely would people of such mixed social status be keeping company together in the middle ages. We see people from a very high social station, like the Knight, and common people, like the Wife of Bath. This offers us an idea of the lives of those people in that time.
Additionally, Chaucer offers a valuable view of Middle English as it was spoken. Middle English from that time is barely recognizable to modern English speakers, so this document from the Middle Ages offers us all a view of the genealogy of our language.
Youtube link offers a reading of the prologue for Canterbury tales spoken in the original Middle English.