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The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue Summary

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    Each spring, people wanted to go on religious pilgrimages to spiritual places. Most people in England like to go to Canterbury, located in southeastern England, to visit Thomas Becket’s remains. Thomas Becket was a Christian martyr who had a healing power. The speaker was going to Canterbury, when he meets a group of 29 people at a hotel who were also going to Canterbury. They decided to get up earlier and all go together. The knight is the first of the 29 people explained to us. He had fought in many wars and in 15 battles, never losing once.

    He was very honorable but stayed humble. With the knight, were his twenty year old son and a servant. His son was a squire boy who assisted his father. He wanted to become a knight also, and was well on his way of doing so. He served in the army in some wars in Holland and France. He had won honors while he was there and hoped to impress the girl he loved with them. The servant, or yeoman, rode on one of the knight’s horses with a bow and arrows. Another that was with them was a prioress named Madame Englantine. She was a polite, well-mannered friendly woman.

    She loved her dogs and would be very upset if anything happened to one of them. She had a big heart. Also described was a monk, who loved to hunt, a smooth talking, happy friar named Hubert, a wealthy and successful merchant, a quiet but insightful clerk from Oxford, a wise, respected sergeant of law, and a food-loving franklin who traveled with the sergeant of law. After them, came the guild. The guild was made up of a hat maker, carpenter, weaver, clothing dyer, and tapestry maker. They all wore the same clothes and expensive accessories.

    They brought a cook with them to make them a variety of delicious foods, but the cook had a wound on his leg. The next people spoke of was a practical shipman who came from the west, a medical doctor who also studied planets, a gapped-tooth, slightly deaf wife from the city of Bath, England who had been married five times, a poor, good-hearted parson who was a priest of a rural county church, the parson’s brother who was a plowman. Next was the short but muscular miller, a smart, uneducated manciple who was esponsible for buying food for the Inner Temple, a short-tempered reeve, and an acne-prone, sketchy summoner, and lastly a pardoner who rode with the summoner. The host, owner of the Tabard Inn, welcomed the group. He told them funny stories after their meal and was delighted that he had such a big, happy group. He promises them a way to be entertained because he knows they have a long ride ahead of them. The host proposes that each of them tells two stories on the way to Canterbury. On the way back, he wants them to tell two more stories about the old days. He says whoever tells the most entertaining gets a free meal.

    They all agreed with the idea and wanted the host to come with them to judge. Dawn came early the next day and they left for Canterbury. They start out at a slow pace, but the host passes out straws so that whoever gets the shortest tells the first story. The knight drew the shortest straw. He didn’t complain but went on to tell his story.

    Works Cited

    Baswell, Christopher, and Anne Howland Schotter. TheLongman Anthology ofBritish Literature. Ed. David Damrosch and Kevin J. H. Dettmar. Fourth ed. Vol. 1A. New York: Pearson Education, Inc, 2010. 318-358. Print.

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