Please describe how in The Cantebury Tales Chaucer fully characterizes, or describes, each of the pilgrims.What makes each character attractive or interesting? What makes each character...

Please describe how in The Cantebury Tales Chaucer fully characterizes, or describes, each of the pilgrims.

What makes each character attractive or interesting? What makes each character unattractive or boring?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In "Canterbury Tales," Geoffrey Chaucer describes each of his characters in a very clear and direct way in the General Prologue to the Tales.

The Prologue is an introduction to the whole work.  The first section of the prologue sets the scene for the Tales: the narrator was traveling to Canterbury on a pilgrimage when he joined a group of other pilgrims, each of whom told a tale.

After that, the narrator directly describes each of his characters.  There are descriptions of physical appearance, of styles of dress, of mannerisms of speaking and eating; there are descriptions of the characters' occupations and the way they carry them out; there are bits of information about each character's past; and there are opinionated comments by the narrator.

Let us examine, for example, Chaucer's description of the Squire.

a) Physical appearance: "Locks well curled, as if they'd laid in press...In stature he was of average length."

b) Style of Dress: "Short was his gown, with sleeves both long and wide."

c) Mannerisms: "Wondrously active...Singing he was, or fluting, all the day...Courteous he, and humble, willing and able."

d) Past: "He'd ridden sometime with the cavalry / In Flanders, in Artois, and Picardy."

Most authors allow their characters to reveal themselves through their actions, and Chaucer is no exception; what is unique is the amount of time and space he gives for direct description in the Prologue.

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