The Canterbury Tales characters

The Canterbury Tale is a milestone of Geoffrey Chaucer`s career.

The Canterbury Tales is the most renown work of Geoffrey Chaucer, written in between 1387- 1400. This Tale is written in verse in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer, and set in Kingdom of England in 1400.

Canterbury Tale is a masterpiece of Geoffrey Chaucer`s career because it depicts the story of different classes of 14th century society. And the major theme of the Tale is social satire.

Earlier, Geoffrey Chaucer wanted to write 120 stories in Canterbury Tales but due to his sudden demise only 24 stories completed and has more than 17000 lines.

This Tale is written in iambic pentameter and in heroic couplet. There are 24 tales, out of 22 is in verse and 2 tales in prose, like the person`s tale and tale of Melibee.

The Canterbury Tales is inspired by Boccaccio`s The Decameron, some line lines are directly translated by Dante`s Divine comedy in the Prioress`s Tale. Many lines of this tale have been translated from Boccaccio`s Griselda in the clerk`s Tale.

The Canterbury Tale is about 29 +3= 32 pilgrims including Geoffrey Chaucer, The Host and the Canon`s Yeoman who joins the group later. All the pilgrims, want to reach Tabard Castle in Southwark, London. The journey of Canterbury Tales begins in April. But overall 29 pilgrims mentioned in prologue

All the pilgrims assemble in Southwark to visit St. Thomas Becket`s shrine who martyred in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

St. Thomas Becket who was the most powerful figures of his time, who also served as a Royal Chancellor and later as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The main highlight of the Canterbury Tale is all the characters, which is beautifully portrayed by Chaucer.

Character Intro:

  • The Host (Harry Bailey) – Innkeeper where all the pilgrims stay, he is the one who suggests story telling competition. He is moderate by nature.
  • The Knight – a brave, gentle and a man of honor and chivalry who has highest ranking because he has fought 100- year wars. 1st tale is told by him which is the longest one.
  • The Miller (Robin) – Wrestling Champion, a thief, steals grain and has a mole on his nose, a red beard, tells the 2nd tale.
  • The Reeve (Oswald) – a estate manager, thin, know lots of tricks, also a carpenter old man, tells the 3rd tale.
  • The Cook (Roger) – a skillful cook hired by five tradesmen, loves to drink, tells the 4th tale.
  • The Man of Law (Sergeant) – a middle class wealthy lawyer, wants to join rank of nobility, tells the 5th tale.
  • Wife of Bath (Allison) – married five times, come from town, tells the 6th tale.
  • The Friar (name Hubert) – a clergyman, an excellent singer, keep donations for himself and tells the 7th tale.
  • The Summoner – a religious thief, ecclesiastical, tells the 8th tale.
  • The Clerk – a poor scholar from Oxford University, speaks morally, can’t afford decent clothes tells the 9th tale.
  • The Merchant – has needle like beard, in debt, shrewd, arrogant and disturbs women, tells the 10th tale.
  • Squire – as a lusty young knight (son of Knight), compose and melodious, tells the 11th tale.
  • The Franklin – white beard wealthy land owner, feed poor farmer, companion of Sergeant, tells the 12th tale.
  • The Physician – well educated and intelligent, tells the 13th tale.
  • The Shipman – an unprincipled man, captain of a ship, tells the 14th tale.
  • The Pardoner – long hair, homosexual, greedy hypocrite kind of person has caprine voice, tells the 14th tale.
  • The Prioress (Madman) – a Nun, speaks French, kind and delicate, tells the 15th tale.
  • The Monk – wears religious and rich type of cloths love hunting, drinking, fat, bold and jolly and tell 16th tale.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer – as pilgrim, narrates two tales 17th and 18th (Tale of Sir Thopas and Melibee Tales)
  • The Nun`s Priest Tale – travelling with Prioress, tells the 20th tale.
  • The Second Nun – she is with Prioress, tells the 21st tale.
  • The Canon`s Yeoman – joins the pilgrim on the way so not introduced, tells the 22nd tale.
  • The Manciple (Caterer) – buy food for establishment, tells the 23rd tale.
  • The Parson – sincere and religious priest, virtuous man, tells the last, 24th tale.
  • Yeoman – servant of Knight, wears green hood coat. He has no tale.

The most important Tales:

  • Wife of Bath`s Tale
  • Knight`s Tale
  • Parson`s Tale
  • Tale of Melibee
  • Nun`s Priest Tale
  • Pardoner`s Tale
  • Physician`s Tale

All the characters are divided according to their status and class by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales like;

Ruling class – The Knight and Squire

Middle class – Franklin, Reeve, Physician, The Clerk, The Wife of Bath and The Man of Law (Sergeant)

Trade Class – guildsmen, cook, Miller, The Host, Manciple and The Merchant

Clergy – Monk, Friar, Prioress, Parson, Summoner and Pardoner

Peasants – Yeoman, Plowman

However, The second Nun and Nun`s priest tale is not mentioned in The General Prologue by Chaucer, but they still play their part and tell the story.

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