In The Prologue To The Canterbury Tales How Does Chaucer Use The Pilgrimage As A Device?

In “The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales,” Chaucer utilizes the pilgrimage as a tool to bring together a variety of people from different social classes and backgrounds, who would not have otherwise interacted, and to present them as storytellers. This device allows Chaucer to portray a wide range of characters, their personalities, and the complexities of medieval society. For example, he writes: “From every shire’s end of England they [the pilgrims] to Canterbury would wend, the holy blessed martyr there to seek, who helped them when they lay so ill and weak.” This passage highlights the different origins of the pilgrims and their reasons for taking the pilgrimage, which include a desire for spiritual fulfillment and a search for physical healing. The shared experience of traveling to Canterbury provides a setting for the characters to exchange stories, allowing Chaucer to present a portrait of medieval society and its customs, beliefs, and values. The pilgrimage also serves as a symbol of a spiritual journey and a commentary on the human condition, with the characters’ tales reflecting both the virtues and flaws of humanity. For instance, Chaucer writes: “Thus hath these pilgryms by my degree, this noble ensample and this worthy tale, passed forth to Canterbury their country’s weal, to find the blissful martyri good Saint Thomas.” This passage emphasizes the spiritual importance of the pilgrimage, which is seen as an opportunity to seek blessings and attain a closer relationship with God. In conclusion, Chaucer’s use of the pilgrimage as a device in “The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales” allows him to display a wide and varied array of characters and their stories, while also providing a backdrop for his commentary on the human condition and medieval society.


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