Discuss The Pilgrimage In "the Canterbury Tales" From The Middle Ages

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Discuss the pilgrimage in "The Canterbury Tales" from the Middle Ages

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories set within a framing story of a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, the shrine of Saint Thomas à Becket. (Atherine , 5) The poet joins a band of pilgrims, vividly described in the General Prologue, who assemble at the Tabard Inn outside London for the journey to Canterbury. Ranging in status from a Knight to a humble Plowman, they are a microcosm of 14th- century English society.  (Atherine , 5)      

The Host proposes a storytelling contest to pass the time; each of the 30 or so pilgrims (the exact number is unclear) is to tell four tales on the round trip. Chaucer completed less than a quarter of this plan. The work contains 22 verse tales (two unfinished) and two long prose tales; a few are thought to be pieces written earlier by Chaucer. (Atherine , 5) The Canterbury Tales, composed of more than 18,000 lines of poetry, is made up of separate blocks of one or more tales with links introducing and joining stories within a block.

Chaucer with the use of a beast fable has helped to elevate what would be considered a conventionally boring set of animals, and turn them into portrayals of human beings. As a cock he may have came from the same batch of eggs as his hens, but as poultry it would not matter whether Chauntecleer mates with his sisters. However some critics suggest the introduction of the human concept of love, allows Chaucer to make an indiscriminate joke about the behaviour of chickens and the impropriety of such behaviour among people. This suggests that the farmyard is a microcosm of society. Which leaves in no doubt that they are animals dressed as human beings. I feel that this is the stronger description as it fits in more suitably with the concept of a beast fable. (Atherine , 5)

The first description we have of Chauntecleer is 'hight Chauntecleer.' This description demonstrates to us the cock's most notable quality (dear singer), which some critics suggest has connotations of human behaviour, this would support the description animals described as humans. The narrator describes him with all the attributes of a bird with his crowing, claws, legs and where his 'coomb was redder than fyn coral' and his 'byle blak'. (Joseph , 13-14) Likewise in his behaviour he is a bird, being the only cock among seven hens; however as with the widow the vocabulary used in the depiction both of the appearance and conduct of the cock and Pertelote suggest a world far removed from that of the farmyard which would support animals dressed as human beings.

The deconstruction together with the imagery and vocabulary that Chaucer uses portrays the noble, proud, and bearing of his hero the cock, yet links his description with human associations. This combination of human and avian is continued as Chauntecleer is described as a 'gentil cok.'(Joseph , 13-14) He behaves courteously with consideration towards the ...
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