Whan the Aprill v his shoures sooteThe droghte of March on foot perced come the roote . . .See essential Quotations defined


The narrator opens the general Prologue with a summary of the return the spring. He explains the April rains, the burgeoning flowers and leaves, and also the chirping birds. Approximately this time of year, the narrator says, people start to feeling the desire to walk on a pilgrimage. Countless devout English pilgrims set off to visit temples in distant holy lands, however even more choose to take trip to Canterbury come visit the relics the Saint thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, where they say thanks to the martyr for having actually helped them as soon as they to be in need.

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The narrator tells united state that as he ready to walk on together a pilgrimage, continuing to be at a tavern in Southwark dubbed the Tabard Inn, a great company of twenty-nine travelers entered. The travelers were a diverse group who, like the narrator, to be on their method to Canterbury. They happily agreed come let him sign up with them. That night, the group slept in ~ the Tabard, and also woke up early on the next morning to set off on your journey. Prior to continuing the tale, the narrator declares his will to list and also describe each of the members of the group.

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Analysis

The invocation of spring through which the general Prologue begins is an extensive and formal compared to the language the the rest of the Prologue. The very first lines situate the story in a particular time and also place, but the speak does this in cosmic and cyclical terms, celebrate the vitality and also richness the spring. This approach gives the opened lines a dreamy, timeless, unfocused quality, and it is thus surprising when the narrator reveals the he’s walking to explain a pilgrimage that he himself took quite than telling a love story.

A pilgrimage is a religious journey undertaken for penance and also grace. As pilgrimages went, Canterbury was not a very complicated destination because that an English human to reach. That was, therefore, an extremely popular in fourteenth-century England, as the narrator mentions. Pilgrims travel to visit the remains of Saint cutting board Becket, archbishop that Canterbury, who was murdered in 1170 by knights of King Henry II. Soon after his death, he came to be the most popular saint in England. The expedition in The Canterbury Tales should not be believed of together an completely solemn occasion, because it also offered the pilgrims an opportunity to give up work and also take a vacation.

In heat 20, the narrator abandons his unfocused, all-knowing suggest of view, identifying himself together an actual human for the first time by inserting the an initial person—“I”—as he relates how he met the team of pilgrims while continuing to be at the Tabard Inn. That emphasizes the this group, which he encountered through accident, to be itself developed quite by opportunity (25–26). He then shifts right into the first-person plural, referring to the pilgrims together “we” start in line 29, asserting his standing as a member that the group.

The narrator end the introductory portion of his prologue by noting that he has “tyme and also space” come tell his narrative. His comments underscore the reality that the is writing some time after the occasions of his story, and also that the is relenten the personalities from memory. The has talked and met through these people, but he has actually waited a details length that time before sitting down and also describing them. His intention to describe each pilgrim as he or she seemed to that is likewise important, because that it emphasizes the his descriptions room not just subject come his memory however are additionally shaped by his individual perceptions and opinions about each of the characters. He positions himself as a mediator in between two groups: the group of pilgrims, of which he was a member, and also us, the audience, whom the narrator explicitly addresses together “you” in present 34 and 38.

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On the other hand, the narrator’s declaration that he will certainly tell us around the “condicioun,” “degree,” and also “array” (dress) of every of the pilgrims argues that his portraits will certainly be based on objective facts as well as his own opinions. The spends significant time characterizing the team members according to your social positions. The pilgrims stand for a varied cross ar of fourteenth-century English society. Middle ages social theory divided society into three broad classes, called “estates”: the military, the clergy, and the laity. (The nobility, not stood for in the general Prologue, traditionally derives its title and also privileges from army duties and service, so that is considered component of the army estate.)

In the portraits that us will watch in the remainder of the basic Prologue, the Knight and Squire stand for the army estate. The priest is represented by the Prioress (and her nun and three priests), the Monk, the Friar, and also the Parson. The various other characters, native the well-off Franklin to the bad Plowman, space the members that the laity. These lay characters can be further subdivided right into landowners (the Franklin), professionals (the Clerk, the man of Law, the Guildsmen, the Physician, and also the Shipman), labor (the Cook and also the Plowman), stewards (the Miller, the Manciple, and also the Reeve), and church officers (the Summoner and also the Pardoner). Together we will see, Chaucer’s explanation of the various characters and their society roles disclose the influence of the middle ages genre of estates satire.