The Canterbury Tales is a literary work by Geoffrey Chaucer, which portrays English society through the ironic and critical description of its characters. The story’s frame narrative revolves around thirty travelers who gather at an inn before embarking on a pilgrimage to the Canterbury Cathedral. The innkeeper proposes a challenge to the pilgrims to tell four stories each on their way, with the promise of a free dinner for the best narrative.
The travelers’ destination is the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, and the journey is expected to be long and tiring. The innkeeper’s idea of storytelling serves as a form of entertainment to make the journey more bearable. The prize for the best story motivates the pilgrims to engage in storytelling, thereby providing an insight into their personalities and social backgrounds.
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The language used in The Canterbury Tales is considered old-fashioned and ornate, making it difficult for modern readers to comprehend. However, there are adapted interpretations available that allow readers to understand Chaucer’s work better. The Smithsonian Magazine provides an article on The Canterbury Tales that explains the story’s setting in three different interpretations, catering to various readers’ preferences.
The tales within the book are diverse, allowing readers to focus on selected chapters and learn about the heroes they prefer. While there are some elements of personal communication between the pilgrims, most stories are independent and do not require prior knowledge to enjoy them. Overall, The Canterbury Tales brings the romantic and adventurous spirit of medieval England to the modern world, making it a timeless classic.
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