Geoffrey Chaucer was an English novelist, poet, philosopher, and diplomat who is best known as the author of The Canterbury Tales. The author is considered the father of English literature and often the English language itself. In the Middle Ages, the novelistic trend is most fully manifested in the genre of the knight’s novel, which brought with it the freedom of narration and the liveliness of dialogues. The narrative traditions of the French knight’s story predetermined the leading position of French literature in the development of the novel for a long time. The Knight’s Tale and The Miller’s Tale are also full of detailed standards of a typical knight’s novel.
Mainly in The Canterbury Tales, the author talks about people who own real estate in the city: for example, these are merchants, artisans, officials, and, less often, knights. Twenty-nine pilgrims meet in an inn near London; they are going to worship the tomb of St. Thomas Becket. These travelers are of different genders, ages and belong to different classes. To pass the time, the pilgrims begin to tell a small story in turn. After the story, the participants discuss the story, share their impressions. Each story corresponds to the position and character of the narrator.
In The Knight’s tale, the Knight is compared with the seller of indulgences. The main character may be considered as an ideal figure, represented by Chaucer on a par with a Priest and a Plowman. The central characteristic is worthiness – “he did not put the knightly family to shame with his worthiness” (Chaucer, 1387-1400, 42). In The Miller’s Tale, Chaucer touches on the theme of love, piety, and nobility in the usual satirical manner. The moral that Chaucer conveys is do not covet your neighbor’s wife.
In conclusion, the depiction of human character in The Canterbury Tales as an artistic history of human life in its present and past is one of the main principles of genre formation. Against the general background of medieval literature, The Canterbury Tales looks like a work that undoubtedly deserves more attention from researchers who, until recently, considered it only a product of medieval artistic consciousness.
Chaucer, G. (1387-1400). The Canterbury Tales. (Wright, D., Trans.). Oxford University Press.