Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” follows a group of 20 or so pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury, and the reader is given an insight into their individual stories. The characters come from all walks of life in the 14th century, such as a carpenter, cook, knight, monk, clerk, merchant, and a very busty miller. These characters are juxtaposed against each other, with one being greedy, another a classic hero, and the other a commoner living in sin. Chaucer uses this variety of characters to both entertain and teach lessons to his readers. He uses both direct and indirect characterization to create these lively characters. Indirect characterization is used to reveal a character’s personality through their appearance, actions, or speech. For example, the Friar in “The Friar’s Tale” is portrayed as a greedy hypocrite, as he is dressed in expensive clothing instead of shabby beggar’s clothing. Direct characterization is used to describe a variety of characters, such as in “The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale” where the Canon is directly characterized as a trickster and the priest as greedy.
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