Chaucer's MotivationWhat do you think compelled Chaucer to write The Canterbury Tales? What interested him?

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alexb2's profile pic

alexb2 | eNotes Employee

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Knowing Chaucer's background and life history, it's possible that his intentions in writing The Canterbury Tales was simply to make his name known for a long time.  Chaucer was arrogant and well taken care of.  He spent most of his life with people who were historically significant and whose names would be in the record books forever.  After his wife died, he had some more time on his hands and likely decided to make sure his legacy would endure also.  I often wonder if he ever thought he'd be able to finish this project.  As a life-long writer, he must have known how daunting of a task it would be to write 120 tales, but by setting up the framework for the entire manuscript, he guaranteed himself a place in literary history.  It certainly helps his cause, also, that the tales are witty and clever!

Great point. One consistent feature of Chaucer's life story is the desire to be 'important', much as his family and friends were to varying degrees. 

In many ways, this isn't so very different from most other writers! Since the dawn of the book, people have seen it as something lasting and immortal. In Chaucer's case, it certainly was. 

mrerick's profile pic

mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

Knowing Chaucer's background and life history, it's possible that his intentions in writing The Canterbury Tales was simply to make his name known for a long time.  Chaucer was arrogant and well taken care of.  He spent most of his life with people who were historically significant and whose names would be in the record books forever.  After his wife died, he had some more time on his hands and likely decided to make sure his legacy would endure also.  I often wonder if he ever thought he'd be able to finish this project.  As a life-long writer, he must have known how daunting of a task it would be to write 120 tales, but by setting up the framework for the entire manuscript, he guaranteed himself a place in literary history.  It certainly helps his cause, also, that the tales are witty and clever!

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

It seems to me that life interested Chaucer. I think he was interested in all facets and walks of life, and he especially liked commenting on the hypocrisy and irony of life.

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