Geoffrey Chaucer was a middle-English poet, most famous for his collection of stories, The Canterbury Tales. Most are written in verse, but several are in prose, and are presented in the form of a story-telling contest among a group of traveling pilgrims.
Popular Tales and Characters from The Canterbury Tales
- The Wife of Bath: Also known as Alyson (or Alys), the Wife of Bath is one of Chaucer's most popular characters. She is described in greater depth than the other pilgrims, with much attention being paid to her physical appearance (including the gap tooth, which symbolised sensuality and lust). The Wife of Bath's tale discusses virginity, marriage, and the power relationship between the sexes.
- The Pardoner's Tale: The Pardoner preaches about greed whilst using his position as a Catholic pardoner to sell fake relics (animal bones, instead of the bones of holy saints). He's aware of his own hypocrisy, and talks openly about his sins in a way that suggests he might be drunk. The narrator of The Canterbury Tales suspects that the Pardoner is either gay or a eunuch.
- The Miller's Tale: Robyn the Miller is drunk and vulgar, and his tale his full of puns and childish slapstick humour.