Chaucer: Day One Handout
1. List some major characteristics of the A-S/Old
English period of British literature.
2. What problems are built into the comitatus
3. What was the role of Christianity in England's
4. What is the difference between ethopoeia and
Note: Please number the lines in Chaucer's "General
Prologue" and in the material related to the Wife of Bath and the Pardoner. For
each of the tales, start over at 1.
- Norman Conquest (1066)
- William the Conqueror
- Edward the Confessor
- Four criteria for kingship
- 1476--William Caxton
- St. Thomas à Becket
- Courtly love
- Breton lay: a short romance
- Curtain lecture
- April 17th: first day of pilgrimage to Canterbury
and the date of Noah's flood
- Chaucer, "The Miller's Tale," "The Nun's Priest's Tale"
- Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la
- Ovid, Art of Love
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe
- What points emerge from a comparison of Chaucer's
opening lines with Eliot's? How does "Western Wind" illuminate Chaucer's
- Groups of you are responsible for preparing to present
one of the ecclesiastical figures to the class: Prioress, Monk, Friar, and
Pardoner. Summarize Chaucer's remarks about your character and then make some
- Professor's remarks on the Wife of Bath.
- Connections between the tales:
- Her Prologue:
- She attacks three aspects of medieval dogma:
- Marriage advertisement:
- What do we know about her life?
- Economic situation:
- Zodiac (Venus-Mars conjunction in Taurus): lines
- Levels on which we can understand the Wife:
- What does the Pardoner's interruption add? Is it
gratuitous? See lines 167ff.
- Do you find any irony in the Wife's "Prologue"?
- How does "The Wife of Bath's Tale" fit the teller? In
other words, how is what we know about the Wife reflected in her tale?
- How do you reconcile the rape with the fact that the
knight gets a young, beautiful, faithful wife out of the deal? What is the
logic of that? Why is the knight not executed immediately? Why is rape not
considered as serious an offense as it would be today?