The Middle Ages and The Canterbury Tales

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  • 1. The Middle Ages and The Canterbury Tales
  • 2. Estate System
    • 1 st : Clergy (those who prayed)
    • 2 nd : Nobility (those who fought)
    • 3 rd : Peasantry (those who produce)
  • 3. Estate System: Females?
    • Virgin
    • Wife
    • Widow
  • 4. Breakdown of the Estate System
    • Mercantile class-urban middle class
    • Intellectuals-trained in literature and writing but didn’t want a career in the church
  • 5. Humours Gluttonous, lazy, sentimental Dull, pale, cowardly Violent, vengeful Amorous, happy, generous Melancholic Phlegmatic Choleric Sanguine Cold & Dry Cold & Moist Hot & Dry Hot & Moist Earth Water Fire Air Black Bile Phlegm Yellow Bile Blood
  • 6. Physigonomy Loose, immoral White neck Intelligence, good breeding High forehead Lechery, drunkenness Pus-filled sores Passion Flaring nostrils Bad temper, irritable Thin Lechery Goat-like Sly Fox-like Dirty Sow-like Strength Ram-like Bold, sexual Gap-teeth Physiognomic Interpretation Physical Characteristic
  • 7. Chivalry and Courtly Love: Ideal but Unreal
    • Chivalry -system of ideals and social codes governing the behavior of knights and gentlewomen
    • Rules of warfare : never attack an unarmed opponent
    • Courtly Love : Adoring a lady (not necessarily one’s wife) was seen as a way to achieve self-improvement
  • 8. Knights
    • Honor
    • Humility
    • Sacrifice
    • Fear of God
    • Faithfulness
    • Courage
    • Graciousness and courtesy to ladies
  • 9. Chivalry and Courtly Love: Ideal but Unreal
    • Courtly Love: in its ideal form, nonsexual
    • Knight might wear his lady’s colors in battle, might glorify her in words and be inspired by her, but he couldn’t cross the boundary between courtly love and physical love
    • Led to an idealized view of women, but did little to improve their actual position
  • 10. Religion
    • Catholic
    • Pope
    • Virgin Mary
    • Indulgences
    • Confession
    • Relics
    • Monks: obedience, chastity, poverty (self-sufficient)
    • Friars (supported by donations)
  • 11. St. Thomas a Becket
  • 12. Bubonic Plague
    • Killed 1/3 of Europe’s population
    • Medieval society never recovered
    • 1300s-1600s-continual outbreaks
    • Labor shortages: peasants grew unruly and demands higher wages
    • Caused people to question religious beliefs
    • Apocalyptic view of life (doomsday)
  • 13. Geoffrey Chaucer
    • 1343-1400
    • Father of English poetry
    • Why? Made English acceptable
    • Kingly, royal, regal
    • Born into a middle-class family in London
    • Father was a wine merchant: $ for education
  • 14. Geoffrey Chaucer
    • Well-known government official-served under 3 kings
    • Sent to Europe as the king’s ambassador (spy?) to France and Italy
    • Literary Influences: Dante’s Inferno , Boccaccio’s Decameron
    • Rapist?
    • “ All I need is a gallon of wine…”
  • 15. Geoffrey Chaucer
    • Chaucer the poet
    • Chaucer the pilgrim
    • Buried at Westminster Abbey
  • 16. The Canterbury Tales
    • Pilgrimage
    • Southwark
    • Tabard Inn
    • Canterbury
    • The Contest
    • 30 pilgrims
  • 17. The General Prologue
    • Begins in April: symbolic time of new life and awakening
    • A concise picture of the entire nation: male & female, learned & ignorant, high & low, old & young
    • Portraits
    • 3 Ideal Portraits
    • Frame Narrative
    • Estates Satire
    • Couplets
    • Iambic Pentameter
  • 18. Couplets and Iambic Pentameter
    • Couplet : sets of two lines that rhyme
    • Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
    • The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
    • Iamb : unstressed/stressed syllable pattern: ˘/ (the beat)
    • Su zanne
    • Pentameter : 5 iambs per line
    • And bathed every veyne in swich licour
    • Iambic Pentameter : 10 syllable line with the unstressed/stressed pattern
  • 19. Themes of the General Prologue
    • Appearance vs. Reality (wel koude)
    • Religious hypocrisy
    • Class
    • Gender
  • 20. The Tales
    • 24 tales
    • Beast fable
    • Exemplum
    • Breton Lay
    • Courtly Romance
    • fabliau
  • 21. Middle English Pronunciation
    • No silent letters—every letter is pronounced: knight, special
    • No long vowels
    • Pronounce vowels as you do in French or Spanish
    • A= ah father
    • E=ay say
    • I=ee gee
    • O=oh oat
    • U=oo who
    • Final e=ah sofa
    • Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote