Chaucer and the French tradition
Geoffrey Chaucer, has written the very famous stories of the “Canterbury Tales”, in 1389, in which he has provided a collection of about 24 stories. These stories have described the critical times of the English literature which was existing during his time. There are stories of twenty nine pilgrims and their journey while they were travelling from London and their destination was the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, which is located at the Canterbury Cathedral. He had developed a prize when they would return. He had accompanied the pilgrims and on his way he wrote these tales where he described the situations, circumstances and the social position in terms of ranking of each of these pilgrims (Chaucer and Hopper).
The first description is of the Knight. He has been described as a “worthy man” that possesses high status in the society. Chaucer has described the tension which existed in the Knight’s life when he went to the war. In few places, he was providing with overwhelming response and respect, whereas in few places, he was in the wanted list for his killings which was a part of his knighthood. He had been wearing a fustian cloth that had stained of the rust that it carried over the coat in the form of a chainmail (Chaucer).
The second description is of the knight’s son, “The Squire”. He had been described as a lovable young bachelor. The bachelor shared the literary interest with Chaucer as he used to play the flute. He was wearing clothes that had designs of red and white flowers in it. Chaucer has described the Squire’s ambitions through the lines,”koude songes make and wel endite”.
There was a “Yeoman”, which refers to a “freeborn servant”. He was the caretaker as well as the protector of the Knight and his son and this was justified by the huge number of weapons that he carried like the sword, arm guard, arrows as well as a dagger. He was wearing a coat and a green colored hood. He had an image of St. Christopher on his coat. The character of “The Monk” has been described to be one of the most handsome men among the pilgrims. He is very rational and believes in developing modern reasoning instead of following the age old traditions and customs. The monk that has been described by Chaucer is not of the contemporary type which possess only bookish knowledge, instead he described this monk as the modern society monk of those times who believed in travelling and exploring the world. His eyes are described to be very bright and shining looking similar to a furnace.
He has described the character of a Miller. The Miller very strong and had won many prizes in wrestling. Chaucer has raised the quality of honesty in a mailer and stated that there were no millers who were honest. He had been carrying a sword as well as a buckler with him. Then comes the character of the Franklin. The character of Franklin has been described in the Franklin’s Tale by Chaucer. He describes him to have a beard which would be of bright white color and he would be very big foodie. He has been described as the person who only has prime interest in food like meat, bread and wine. He has described this through the lines, “snewed in his hous of mete and drynke” (Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales Summary and Analysis of General Prologue).
Joseph Glaser, in his book, “The Canterbury Tales in Modern Verse”, praised the works of Chaucer and the concepts shown in his stories. He discussed the above statements of Charles Muscatine. He has provided with firm researches that the time when Chaucer had written the stories was the beginning of a revolution and he stated that Chaucer was able to recognize this in his stories (Chaucer and Glaser).
“The rooms were good, the food was fine,
The fires were warm, the wine went round.”
The counter argument provided by Charles Muscatine states that the characters which were used in the Chaucer’s tales were carrying a degree of tension which was related to their designations and positions in the society. He also described that the conventional standards and the details about the characters has been very much influenced by the thinking and belief of Chaucer (Muscatine).
However, it can be seen that the first part of the book, which is, “The General Prologue”, has been the base for the development of characters in the other parts. Chaucer has described the tales of the pilgrims in his own words using his own ideologies and this tales have been considered as the words of the pilgrims themselves.
Chaucer, Geoffrey and Joseph Glaser. The Canterbury Tales in Modern Verse. . Hackett Publishing, 2005. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey and Vincent Foster Hopper. Canterbury Tales selected. Barron’s Educational Series, 1970. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. “The Canterbury Tales Summary and Analysis of General Prologue.” The Canterbury Tales (2015): 1-8. Print.
Muscatine, Charles. Chaucer and the French Tradition: A Study in Style and Meaning. . University of California Press, 1957. Print.