The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales as Social Commentary

Born in the year 1340, Geoffrey Chaucer's life took him through both the dredges and the peaks of medieval civilization. While serving in the retinue of Prince Lionel, Chaucer was captured by the French during the siege of Reims. Seven years after being ransomed for 16 pounds, he entered service as an esquire for Edward III. It was during this time that he started his career as a writer by translating parts of Romaunt of the Rose. For the next several years, he penned such classics as Saint Cecelia, Anelida and Arcite, and The House of Fame, despite working demanding jobs and being accused (and acquitted) of rape. However, it wasn't until his wife's death in 1387 that he began his most famous work of all, the Canterbury Tales (Librarius).

Although it was never completed, the Canterbury Tales are still widely viewed as one of the most in-depth descriptions of life in the Middle Ages in existence. Because its characters serve as a cross-section of the varying classes of people, each one told with a vibrant truthfulness that goes beyond the stereotypes associated with them, a person studying the journey of these pilgrims could well claim to know what medieval life was like. The fact that it deals with a pilgrimage of...

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