Why is The Canterbury Tales important?

Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales provides a window into medieval society, which was heavily stratified according to social class. The book is notable for the way it gives voice to characters from all segments of society. Chaucer’s characters represent different social classes in feudal society, which included the nobility, the church, and the lower class.

Each character in The Canterbury Tales embodies a particular type or class, such as the Knight who represents the upper class, the Miller who symbolizes the working class, the Wife of Bath who speaks for women, and the Pardoner who depicts the clergy. Through their stories, Chaucer explores the social and ethical issues that defined each class during the Middle Ages.

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The tales told from the perspective of lower class characters, such as The Shipman’s Tale, The Cook’s Tale, and The Miller’s Tale, provide insight into the lives of the working people in medieval society. The Wife of Bath’s tale highlights the issue of gender inequality and the dominance of men over women during the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, the Pardoner’s tale exposes the corruption of the church and the abuses of power by clergy members.

Through these stories, Chaucer portrays the various social classes in medieval society and exposes the differences between them. The Canterbury Tales provides a comprehensive picture of life during the Middle Ages and the ethical issues that arose from the social stratification of the time.


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