Chaucer’s “General Prologue”, a chapter in The Canterbury Tales, focuses on the portraits of 28 pilgrims who are making a pilgrimage to the shrine in Canterbury dedicated to Saint Thomas Becket. These pilgrims are described either in passing or in more detail: the Knights, Yeomans, Prioress and Monks, Friarss, Monks, Friarss, Monks, Friarss, Friarss, Monks, Friarss, Friarss, Monks, Friarss. The General Prologue’s characters are fictional characters. They take part in a fictitious arrangement that Chaucer has set up. As such, the text makes it clear that the narrator too is a fictional character. The portrait of narrator looks different to the portraits of other characters. The space that is created by the separation of author and narrator allows for the pilgrim narrator to have his portrait. The separation of the author and narrator is a literary device Chaucer uses, which allows him to have a distinct identity. This theme is also repeated in other characters. Chaucer makes it possible for the narrator’s voice to overshadow his own. Chaucer intentionally and comically creates an imperfect and naive character to help him separate from the narrator. An absent author may appear to make the work fiction, but it is possible to manipulate the reader’s perspective to change the perception. In the prologue’s opening lines, lines 20 through 42, it is clear that the author and the storyteller are separated. The idea that “chance”, which is the name of the author, has put the narrator in touch with the other pilgrims whom later he describes. This contradicts the notion the author created the apparatus to introduce the stories to come. The narrator is safe and secure in a world created by Chaucer. This world is one where the narrator has no idea of the author’s circumstances. Ironically, the pilgrim narration aims to tell the reader all the conditions. The narrator’s voice is tense, and exposes his innocence and naivety. Line 39, “…so I thought it to me,” andline 82, “…i gotse,” illustrate the narrator’s confidence and assertion that what he says is his opinion. The text continues this adamant tone, particularly at lines 154-157. Chaucer uses the narrator’s tone to entertain and convince the reader that the author is absent.

Of eech, it seems to me.

The narrator explains the strategy he will use to describe the pilgrims in lines 40-42. Once the narrator starts to describe each character, he tends not to include certain characteristics. While the biases of his narrator create a portrait about him, they also emphasize the distinction between the literary professional, an author, and a pilgrim narrator that is easily influenced or recollected by his emotions. The narrator chose to concentrate on her eating habits and deep love of animals in the illustration of the Prioress rather than her religious devotion and respect for human life. The reader is advised that the narration is from memory and descriptions are an expression of the author’s biases. The narrator speaks with each pilgrim and then says that he feels a unity. (Line 32). This line emphasizes the difference between the author and the narrator as it solidifies the author’s relationship with the pilgrims. In addition, the narrator’s willingness to talk to all pilgrims in sufficient detail to be able to describe their lives in detail is a sign of his social nature. The text shows the narrator to be a positive person. Even when they are not in line with the values of pilgrims, the pilgrim narrator emphasizes them all. His misinterpretations or misconceptions about the characters he relates are due to his positive personality, which reveals his naivety. The reader. The description of the merchant makes it seem that the merchant is very inconsiderate and greedy. However, the narrator still believes that he is a good and “worthy” man. To describe other pilgrims such as Knight and Wife, the narrator uses “worthy”. The positive tone implies that every pilgrim character is the most outstanding of its kind. The positive description of each character in the narrative is honest and innocent. Even the narrator feels the need to mention, at the end, that any stories that follow will contain vulgar language, and he should not be held responsible. This demonstrates the narrator’s concern for others’ perceptions. He hopes other pilgrims will feel the same way. Chaucer intentionally portrays Chaucer’s character as naive and manipulatively, in order to emphasize the irony in the poem and keep the distinction between him and his narrator. Chaucer leaves out the physical characteristics of the narrator so that the reader can form a portrait of him/her. The audience is limited to visual information and must rely on background knowledge. The text doesn’t mention the sex of the narrator, but the majority assumes the narrator to be a man — Chaucer or someone very similar. However, the narrator is portrayed as a young man by his insecurity. Chaucer presents the narrator in a young, unwise manner, which contrasts his famous genius. Although this opening of the General Prologue is not unusual for its time, it is indicative of Chaucer’s youthful optimism and youth. The reader is able to see the innocence of the narrator and the views he has about the characters as innocent and honest. It also allows Chaucer to insert moments of significant irony into the narrative. The Canterbury Tales does not provide a precise description of the narrator. However, it is possible to build a portrait of him by looking at the entire text. This portrait can be derived from the split between author and narrator. Chaucer is an ironic and literary sophisticated author who has a naive, youthful, optimistic narrator. Chaucer, who is a narrator and author, emphasizes this separation to make his work invisible. His apparent disappearance forces the reader not to believe that the work is fiction, but nonfiction.


  • benjaminchambers

    Benjamin Chambers is an educator and blogger who focuses on using technology in the classroom. He has written for sites like The Huffington Post and The EdTech Digest, and has been featured in outlets like Forbes and The New York Times. Chambers' work has helped him to develop a following of educators and students who appreciate his down-to-earth approach to learning technology.