A Deeper Look at Chaucer’s GeneralPrologue to The Canterbury TalesLauren Zizwarek By PresenterMedia.com
•The Franklin “A fourteenth-century health-food addict”? (Cooper 46) Lines 333-336 •Chaucer’s speaker mentions that A Frankelain was in his compaignye: Franklin is in “compaignye” with the Sergeant. •Franklin is a feudal “landowner of the gentry class” (Chaucer 333)). •His beard is as white as a daisy. Whit was his beerd as is the dayesye; Simile: Appearance sets him apart from the others. •“The sanguinity indicates an open and generous temperament with a Of his complexion he was sanguin. good stomach and digestion” (Cooper 45). •Gourmet eating to dip his bread in wineWel loved he by the morwe a sop in win. •Cultural Value: Preparing fancy foods indicated a well-kept home in the Middle Ages.
•The Franklin •Epicurus is a GreekTo liven in delit was evere his wone, philosopher who taught that happiness is the goal of life (Norton 178, f. 6). For he was Epicurus owene sone, •Chaucer’s “voice refuses to be assimilated in any simple That heeld opinion that plein delit way to that of the moralist” (Cooper 46). Was verray felicitee parfit. •Franklin may not have the same opinion as Epicurus. •Compare: Franklin to St.An housholdere and that a greet was he: Julian (patron saint of hospitality) •Chivalry: hospitable to allSaint Julian he was in his contree. company
•The Franklin “One of the world’s social climbers in the person of the Franklin, who is out to impress as much as he is easily impressed himself” (Williams 45). Envined: wine-stocked (Norton 179) His breed, his ale, was always after oon; Tone: pleasant A bettre envined man was nevere noon. His house “snowed” of food and drink. Funny! The Withouten bake mete was nevere his hous, Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous best was always expected. It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke, Chaucer’s speaker is using food and language to show Of alle daintees that men coude thinke. that Franklin “appears lordly in his way of life” (Williams 43); however, he will never reach aristocratic status. The Franklin changes his diet depending on the After the sondry sesons of the yeer season. So chaunged he his mete and his soper. Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in mewe, Poignant and sharp spices to go along with the And many a breem, and many a luce in stewe. food, “hot and dry elements balancing the cold and Wo was his cook but if his sauce were Poinant and sharp, and redy all his gere. moist—reflect medieval beliefs about wholesome eating” (Cooper 46).
•The Franklin’s Social Standing Social standing in the Middle Ages is characterized by one’s background, estate, array, and values. ANALYSISLINES • Chaucer’s Ironic Tone: • He cannot reach true nobility even ifHis table dormant in his halle alway he’s “consuming the same foodsStood redy covered all the longe day. that sustain the aristocrat” (Williams 43).At sessions ther was he lord and sire. • Had been a sheriff and an auditor.Ful ofte time he was Knight of the Shire. • Detail:An anlaas and a gipser al of silk • Franklin’s table is never taken down;Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk. always ready for guests • Expresses Chaucer’s opinion ofA shirreve hadde he been, and countour. Franklin as a social climberWas nowhere swich a worthy vavasour. • Chaucer’s speaker views Franklin as “a worthy vavasour”*The Franklin serves as a “county representative • “Anlaas”: two-edged dagger in Parliament”, sessions refers to “sessions of • “Gipser”: purse (Norton 179) the justices of the peace” (Norton 179, f. 2). Still • Simile remains in broad middle class.* • Array-respectable character • Does Chaucer view Franklin as truly worthy if he comes from middle class (Reiss 28)?
Haberdasher- “dealerin hats or small wares”(Chaucer 363) Webbe-“weaver” (Chaucer 364) Tapicer-“weaver of tapestries” (Chaucer 364) An Haberdasshere and a Carpenter, A Webbe, a Dyere, and a Tapicer— And they were clothed alle in oo liveree of a solempne and greet fraternitee.
•Lines 363-370 Clothing is the same.An Haberdasshere and a Carpenter, • Chaucer’s speaker puts 5A Webbe, a Dyere, and a Tapicer— men together • Single characterAnd they were clothed alle in oo liveree • Chaucer’s goal:Of a solempne and greet fraternitee. • He “provides us with aFul fresshe and newe hir gere apiked was; gallery of universally recognizable characters”Hir knives were chaped nought with bras, (Williams 42)But al with silver; wrought ful clene and weel • “parish guild: an organization in which theHir girdles and hir pouches everydeel. members associated for acts of piety and mutual welfare” (Cooper 47)“Nought with bras” emphasizes significance of 1) St. Thomas of Canterbury silver knives, which are illegal. Their uniforms 2) Craft guilds receive are very detailed. political power Guilds referred to as “fraternities” have more successful, powerful members than other guilds of the time (Olson 149).
•Lines 371-374 •Cultural Value: Being an establishedWel seemed eech of hem a fair burgeis citizen shows loyaltyTo sitten in a yeldehalle on a dais. and commitment toEverich, for the wisdom that he can, king.Was shaply for to been an alderman. • Burgeis-burgher (Norton 179) • Yeldehalle-guildhall (Norton 179) • Chaucer’s speaker: • Guildsmen are “suitable for advancement” (Cooper 47). • Prosperity • Gain city official status from speaker • Chaucer: • Wisdom=key to being good alderman • Foreboding tone: key element restraining guildsmen from being socially successful and in estate of large mass of commoners.
•The Guildsmen and their Wives… Lines 375-380• Chaucer’s speaker-voice for • Previous mention of wisdom • Wives think they are the guildsmen; emphasizes and high status of guildsmen their “superiority” over are “dropped when their royal because of their wives’ motives are other townsmen (Cooper introduced” (Cooper 47). husbands, but, indeed, 47) by commenting on • Chaucer expresses his they are not. having property and income. negative view of women by saying that they are at fault. • For catel hadde they • And elles certain • And goon to vigilies all ynough and rente, were they to blame: bifore, • Catel-“property” • “I.e., at the head of the (Chaucer 375) • It is ful fair to been procession. ‘Vigiles’: feasts • Rente-“income” held on the eve of saints’ ycleped “Madame,” days” (Norton 179 ,f. 8). (Chaucer 375) • Ycleped-“called” (Chaucer 378) • And eek hir wives • And have a mantel wolde it wel assente— royalliche ybore. • “Royally carried” (Norton 179, f. 9).
•The Cook Lines 381-386“For the occasion” (N). A Cook they hadde with hem for the nones,“‘Powdre-marchant’ and To boile the chiknes with the marybones,‘galingale’ are flavoring materials”(N). And powdre-marchant tart and galingale.1) The Cook’s description can be read “like the index of a Wel coude he knowe a draughte of London ale. cookery book” (Cooper 48). He coude roste, and seethe, and broile, and frye, 1) Tasting, roasting, boiling, Maken mortreux, and wel bake a pie. broiling, frying, baking2) The Cook works for the 5 Guildsmen. 1) He is “the only pilgrim to be…identified as a 1) Chaucer’s speaker Londoner” (Wallace 390). devotes 7 lines to describing his 1) Familiarity with London ale occupation; only 2 lines (couplet) are personal (Wallace 398).
•The Cook But greet harm was it, as it thoughte me, Lines 387-389 • Chaucer voices his opinion by shifting his tone from jolly to serious. He does not express any sympathy for the Cook.Mormal-“ulcer” (Chaucer)Blankmanger-“a white stew ormousse” (Chaucer) That on his shine a mormal hadde he,•Chaucer makes a social • Only detail of Cook’s appearancecomment regarding gluttony • The ulcer juxtaposes the cook’s delicious pies and •Too much of one thing mousses. can be bad •The ulcer is the Cook’s For blankmanger, that made he with the “symptom in medieval beste. diagnosis of self- • Chaucer’s speaker thinks that his amazing indulgence” (Cooper 48). cooking skills are more important than his ulcer. This “defect…has not been emphasized in the behavior of the pilgrim himself” in the General Prologue (Olson 151).
Bonnart, Jean Baptiste. The Haberdasher. N.d. 1st-Art-Gallery. Works Cited 1st-Art-Gallery. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Jean-Baptiste-Bonnart/ The-Haberdasher.html>.The Carpenter. N.d. The Hissem-Montague Family. N.p., 10 Dec. 2011. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://measuresconsulting.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/ carpenter.jpg>.Chaucers Cook. N.d. "Geoffrey Chaucer." Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/cook.htm>.Chaucer, Geoffrey. "The General Prologue." The Canterbury Tales. Ed. Sinan Kðkbugur. Librarius, 1997. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.librarius.com/canttran/gptrfs.htm>. This source was used primarily for its “Middle-english Glossary.”Cooper, Helen. Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1996. Print.Dyer. N.d. BayRose. Robin L. Berry, 2004. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://www.bayrose.org/AandS/dyeing.html>.Epicurus. N.d. Epicurean Philosophy Online. Erik Anderson, Nov. 2003. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://www.epicurus.info/>.The Franklin. N.d. English Literature and Culture from Medieval Period to the Eighteenth Century. Fu Jen English Department, 1999. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/medieval/>.The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt, et al. 8th ed. The Major Authors, Vol. A: The Middle Ages Through the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. 178-80. Print. All Middle English lines from “The General Prologue” are taken from this source.Olson, Glending. "Chaucers Idea of a Canterbury Game." Critical Insights: The Canterbury Tales. Ed. Jack Lynch. Pasadena: Salem, 2011. 141-58. Print.Reiss, Edmund. "Chaucers Thematic Particulars." Signs and Symbolism in Chaucers Poetry. Ed. John P. Hermann and John J. Burke, Jr. University: U of Alabama, 1986. 27-42. Print.Tapestry Weaver. N.d. V&A. Victoria & Albert Museum, 18 Jan. 2004. Web. 2 Jan. 2012. <http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1220_gothic/ visiting_information.php>.Wallace, David. "Chaucer and the Absent City." Critical Insights: The Canterbury Tales. Ed. Jack Lynch. Pasadena: Salem, 2011. 382-94. Print.Williams, David. The Canterbury Tales: A Literary Pilgrimage. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Print.