General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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What are the features of characterization in the "General Prologue" of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales?

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Eleanora Howe eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The other answer to this question does a really good job of providing a wide range of all the many ways that Chaucer characterizes his protagonists. I'd like to add one more feature of characterization to this list: occupation/work. As careful as Chaucer is to describe the attitudes and physical features of his characters, he is just as careful to define them in terms of their job or social class; indeed, though some of the characters have names, Chaucer usually refers to them by their occupation: the Knight, the Miller, the Friar, the Carpenter, the Dyer, the Weaver, etc. By doing so, Chaucer foregrounds the importance of social diversity in his cast of characters, highlighting many different social classes rather than focusing on the nobility, such as the Knight. Overall, this method of characterization leads to a poem of many voices and perspectives, rather than a monolithic narrative coming from only one consciousness. It also references a subtle shift in the social structure of...

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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