Discover the Father of English Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Life and Legacy

In the late 1300’s, amidst the depression and continual war, an impending author and poet was born. Geoffrey Chaucer would be one of the greatest poets of the Middle English period, and would be given the titles, the “Father of English Literature,” and the “Greatest Poet of Medieval England.” Chaucer wrote many enriching works of … Read more

The Pardoner’s Tale (The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer)

In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer uses a satirical frame narrative to describe thirty pilgrims’ journey to Canterbury. Included in these pilgrims is Chaucer himself as Chaucer the Pilgrim. The Canterbury Tales, a cross-section of fourteenth-century society, includes every class of society of the time, except royalty and serfs. Chaucer opens the story at the … Read more

Herstory?: Undermining Credibility in "The Wife of Bath's Tale

 Ekta Karkala Ms. Sherrard AP English Language, Period 4 December 10, 2018  WORD PICKS History or Herstory?: Undermining Credibility in “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”   In medieval Europe, customary laws emerged as authoritative devices meant to restrict or grant rights. Customary laws favored men over women in all aspects, especially those regarding property, … Read more

Differences as Motives for Attack in The Odyssey, The Canterbury Tales, & The Spanish Inquisition

 American poet Audre Lorde once wrote, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”  Throughout history, there have often been instances where people reject people or things who seem ‘alien’ and foreign to themselves and their own culture, often causing war and bloodshed. … Read more

Envy in Anglo-Saxon & Medieval Societies: Beowulf & Canterbury Tales

 Davyon Duhart Albright Senior English 8 October 2017 Envy in Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Societies Medieval and Anglo-Saxon societies were both formed in different time periods but they seemed to have a lot more in common than one would expect. Humans in both of these eras had similar values and principles and they also seemed … Read more

The Knight’s Tale and the Miller’s Tale (no universal standard to judge love and marriage)

Dissecting love and marriage ideals is an impossible task because human actions in emotional situations do not follow any logic, something that has been proven consistently over time and across cultures and classes. It is also corroborated within Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a tale of tales, that makes fun of the conventional beliefs about these … Read more

Attitudes toward marriage in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales demonstrate many different attitudes toward and perceptions of marriage. Some of these ideas are very traditional, such as that discussed in the Franklin’s Tale, and others are more liberal such as the marriages portrayed in the Miller’s and the Wife of Bath’s Tales. While several of these tales are rather comical, … Read more

Irony in the Canterbury tales

Irony is the general name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting, or amusing contradictions. 1 Two stories that serve as excellent demonstrations of irony are “The Pardoners Tale” and “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” both from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Although these two stories are very different, they both use irony to teach a lesson. Of the stories, … Read more

Role of Women in British Literature (Beowulf/Canterbury Tales/Macbeth)

In British Literature, women had many responsibilities, but very few freedoms. The men in this society ruled over women and told them how to live their lives. Women of low classes were to stay in their homes and be housewives. The working class women were to work for their husbands while still caring for their … Read more

Comparing Chaucer and Shakespeare – literary and generic conventions

Geoffrey Chaucer lived from 1343-1400, coincided with Middle Ages. His works were composed between 1374 and his death in 1400. He was a comptroller of wool for a living meaning writing was a pastime for him. William Shakespeare lived from 1564-1616, approximately two hundred years after Chaucer. Most of his plays and poetry were written … Read more

Geoffrey Chaucer / The Canterbury Tales – social classes

Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales and many other famous pieces of British Literature, has shown a special talent for writing from the views of different social classes in his literary works.  Chaucer was able to accurately portray and break through every social class in his writings from lifelong experiences where he grew from … Read more

Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath

Ganim asserts that the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was “deeply implicated and interested in the burning issues of his day” (90) and Oberembt builds on this by stating that “we must, of course, affirm the omnipresence of misogyny in the Middle Ages and the anti-feminist bias of many great minds of this era” (287). However, in … Read more

Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales – historical context

Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, written in the late fourteenth century, follows the story of over thirty characters on a pilgrimage who tell tales for game. Chaucer’s unfinished masterpiece is reminiscent of the era as to when Medieval society had begun to collapse due to changing classes and rising conflicts between groups. The story documents … Read more

Anglo Saxon and Medieval Era: Behavioral Aspects (Beowulf, The Wife of Bath)

Senior English 2 13, December 2018 Anglo Saxon and Medieval Era: Behavioral Aspects Although the Anglo Saxon and Medieval eras were two distinct and different time periods, they share the same use of literary behaviors in their writing. We can take note on this in examples such as “Beowulf”, a poem based on a fearless … Read more

Comparing the use of Venus and Diana (Spencer/Chaucer)

Many authors utilize the allusion to classical mythological subjects to create a strong center of reference in terms of actual characters in the story. Medieval literature has many times been influenced by mythology in past tales. Using allusions to classic ancient mythological beings to guide readers interpretations, authors are able to create cohesive stories that … Read more

Writing essays on the Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is one of the most famous works of Middle English literature, and it has been influential in shaping the course of English literature since its completion in the late 14th century. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are a collection of 24 stories, written in verse, and are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral.

Introduction to the author:

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400) was a prominent English poet, writer, and philosopher. He is often referred to as the “father of English literature” because of his contributions to the development of the English language. Chaucer was a courtier in the service of King Edward III and later worked as a diplomat. During his lifetime, he wrote many works of poetry, prose, and philosophy, but his most famous work is the Canterbury Tales.

Main themes/topics:

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories that cover a wide range of topics and themes, including love, marriage, religion, social class, and human nature. The tales offer a vivid portrayal of life in medieval England and provide an insightful commentary on the human condition.

One of the main themes of the Canterbury Tales is the role of women in medieval society. Many of the tales focus on the experiences of women, and Chaucer often presents them as strong and independent characters. For example, the Wife of Bath, a character in the Canterbury Tales, challenges traditional gender roles by insisting on her right to marry multiple times and have control over her own sexuality.

Another key theme of the Canterbury Tales is social class and the complex relationships between people of different classes. Chaucer explores the lives and perspectives of characters from all levels of society, from the wealthy and powerful to the poor and marginalized.

The Canterbury Tales also contains a strong religious component. The pilgrims are on a religious journey to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral, and many of the tales focus on religious themes and morality. However, Chaucer often challenges traditional religious beliefs and presents characters who are hypocritical or morally flawed.

Relevance today:

Despite being written over 600 years ago, the Canterbury Tales still hold significant relevance today. Many of the themes and issues that Chaucer explored are still relevant to contemporary society. For example, the role of women in society, social class, and religious hypocrisy are still topics of debate and discussion.

In addition, the Canterbury Tales continue to be a valuable source of insight into the language, culture, and values of medieval England. They provide a glimpse into a bygone era and offer a window into the lives and experiences of people from all levels of society.


In conclusion, the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a significant work of literature that continues to have relevance today. The tales offer a unique perspective on medieval life and explore a wide range of themes and issues that are still relevant today. Chaucer’s writing is insightful, witty, and often provocative, and his characters remain some of the most memorable and enduring in English literature.

Points for discussion:

Here are some important points that students should consider when writing essays about The Canterbury Tales:

  • The role of women in medieval society and the way Chaucer portrays them in his tales
  • The social class structure of medieval England and how it is reflected in the tales
  • The relationship between the pilgrims and the way they interact with each other during the journey
  • The use of irony and satire in the tales to critique society and human behavior
  • The representation of different professions in the tales and how they reflect medieval society
  • The religious themes present in the tales and how they reflect the religious attitudes of the time
  • The use of symbolism and allegory in the tales to convey deeper meanings
  • The way Chaucer’s writing style and use of language contribute to the overall effect of the tales
  • The role of storytelling and the impact it has on the characters and the reader
  • The way the tales reflect the cultural and historical context of medieval England
  • The use of humor and wit to lighten the tone of the tales and engage the reader
  • The way the tales reflect universal themes and issues that are still relevant today.