The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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What is Chaucer's main reason for writing about the pilgrimage in "The Prologue" from The Canterbury Tales?

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"The General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales serves two main functions: to offer context for the text to follow and to introduce all of the pilgrims. In fulfilling both of these purposes, Chaucer also inserts subtle criticism of certain characters and satirizes aspects of life in the Middle Ages.

The first purpose is fairly simple: Chaucer introduces the setting and premise of the text. "The Prologue" begins with Chaucer saying it's April, and people like to go on pilgrimages in April. The characters will be traveling to Canterbury, to the holy site of St. Thomas a Becket, to ask for healing. The pilgrims have all gathered at the Tabard Inn the night before the pilgrimage, and the host, who owns the inn, proposes a contest for the journey. He says each character will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back, as a form of entertainment and to pass the time as they travel. The best story will be chosen by the host, and the winner will earn a free dinner when they...

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