What is the genre of each of the tales within "The Canterbury Tales"?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here is a list of genres within The Canterbury Tales and the tales that fit into each one. Some tales may fit into more than one genre.

Romances: Knight, Squire, Franklin, Sir Topas, and possibly Wife of Bath

Fabliaux (short comic tales centered around the playing of a trick; usually contain elements of violence, farce, blasphemy, sexual activity and coarse language): Miller, Reeve, Shipman, Merchant, Cook, possibly Summoner

Satire: Summoner, Friar

Folk tale: Wife of Bath

Sermon (or Exemplum): Wife of Bath, Pardoner, Canon's Yeoman, Parson, Friar

Saints' Lives: Prioress, Second Nun, Clerk, Man of Law, Physician

Epic: Knight's tale

Fairy Romance: Sir Topas, possibly Wife of Bath

Breton Lay (a form of romance story that came out of Celtic oral performance; usually concerned with issues of personal worth and fidelity in relationships): Franklin

Didactic Treatises: Parson, possibly Physician, Man of Law, and Clerk

Beast Fable: Manciple, Nun's Priest

Courtly Love: Squire

Some categorize the Monk's tale as a "Fall of Great Men" story and the Man of Law's tale as a "Woman in a Boat" story.

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