The Canterbury Tales

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Chaucer Character Analysis

Chaucer does not name himself in the General Prologue, but he is one of the characters who gather at the Tabard Inn. All of the descriptions of the pilgrims in the Prologue are narrated through the perspective of the character of Chaucer (which may or may not be the same as that of the author Chaucer). Although the Chaucer-narrator is not initially preparing to go on pilgrimage, after describing all the pilgrims, he decides to join the merry company on their journey.

Chaucer Quotes in The Canterbury Tales

The The Canterbury Tales quotes below are all either spoken by Chaucer or refer to Chaucer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Satire Theme Icon
).
General Prologue Quotes

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendered is the flour;
...
Thanne longen folk to goon pilgrimages
...
And specially from every shires ende
OF Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blissful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they they were seeke.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker)
Related Symbols: Springtime

He was a verray, parfit gentil knyght.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker), The Knight

Ful weel she soong the service dyvyne
Entuned in hir nose ful seemly,
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford atte Bowe,
For Frenssh of Parys was to hir unknowe.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker), The Prioress
Related Symbols: Clothing and Appearance

He yaf nat of that text a pulled hen,
That seith that hunters ben nat hooly men,
Ne that a monk, whan he is recchelees,
Is likned to a fissh that is waterlees––
This is to seyn, a monk out of his cloystre.
But thilke text heeld he nat worth an oyster.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker), The Monk

Nowher so bisy a man as he there nas,
And yet he semed bisier than he was.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker), The Man of Laws

For May wole have no slagardie anyght.
The sesoun priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh it out of his slep to sterte.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker)
The Miller’s Prologue Quotes

And therefore, whoso list it nat yheere,
Turne over the leef and chese another tale;
For he shal fynde ynow, gret and smale,
Of storial thing that toucheth gentilesse,
And eek moralitee and hoolynesse.
Blameth nat me if that ye chese amys.
The Miller is a cherl, ye know wel this.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker)
Prologue to Sir Thopas Quotes

He in the waast is shape as wel as I;
This were a popet in an arm t’embrace
For any woman, smal and fair of face.

Related Characters: The Host (speaker), Chaucer
The Tale of Sir Thopas Quotes

Listeth, lordes, in good entent,
And I wol telle verrayment
Of myrthe and of solas,
Al of a knight was fair and gent
In bataille and in tourneyment;
His name was sire Thopas.

Related Characters: Chaucer (speaker)
Host’s Interruption of Chaucer Quotes

Thy drasty rhyming is nat worth a toord!

Related Characters: The Host (speaker), Chaucer
Get the entire The Canterbury Tales LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Chaucer Character Timeline in The Canterbury Tales

The timeline below shows where the character Chaucer appears in The Canterbury Tales. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
General Prologue
Friendship and Company Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
Chaucer, the narrator, who is preparing to go on pilgrimage, is staying at the Tabard Inn,... (full context)
Friendship and Company Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
The narrator and the other pilgrims drink, and they decide they will start their journey together the... (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Church Corruption Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
The narrator next describes the Prioress, a nun named Madame Eglentyne. She sings the liturgy through her... (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
The narrator notes that a second nun rides with the Prioress as well as a chaplain and... (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Courtly Love and Sexual Desire Theme Icon
Church Corruption Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...any sins sweetly and pleasantly. Many a man is so hard of heart, says the narrator, that he cannot weep for his sins: instead of tears and prayers, these men give... (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Friendship and Company Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...was so dignified in business that no one can tell he was in debt, the narrator claims. (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Friendship and Company Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...are dressed well, with brightly polished belts and knives. Any one of them, says the narrator, could have been an alderman, as their wives would agree. (full context)
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Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...taffeta robes, he saved much of what he earned: gold is the best medicine, the narrator says, and the Physician therefore loves gold best. (full context)
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Friendship and Company Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...the company is a Reeve, a Miller, a Summoner, a Pardoner, a Manciple, and the narrator himself: besides these, “ther were namo.” (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Church Corruption Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
...is in his purse, he says, in his purse he should be punished. But the narrator knows that wicked men need to fear execution as well. The Summoner also is the... (full context)
Social Satire Theme Icon
Friendship and Company Theme Icon
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...providing descriptions of all the pilgrims who have assembled at the tavern in Southwark, the narrator begs the reader’s forgiveness for anything unseemly in the tales, as the narrator is simply... (full context)
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Friendship and Company Theme Icon
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The narrator returns to the story of the first night he spent with the pilgrims. The merry... (full context)
The Miller’s Prologue
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Competition Theme Icon
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The narrator apologizes for the bawdy, raunchy nature of the Miller’s tale and tells the reader that... (full context)
Prologue to Sir Thopas
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Courtly Love and Sexual Desire Theme Icon
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“What man artow?” says the Host to Chaucer the pilgrim. The Host makes fun of Chaucer for staring at the ground all the... (full context)
The Tale of Sir Thopas
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Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Thopas is told in a thumping rhyme scheme and song-like meter. Fair... (full context)
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Chaucer describes in great detail Sir Thopas’s preparations for battle. First, he eats sweets, and then... (full context)
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Courtly Love and Sexual Desire Theme Icon
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Lords and ladies, says Chaucer, listen to my story! Men speak of all the knights of Arthurian legend, but Sir... (full context)
Host’s Interruption of Chaucer
Social Satire Theme Icon
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Friendship and Company Theme Icon
Writing and Authorship Theme Icon
The Host tells Chaucer to stop his horrible doggerel, saying that his terrible rhymes are “nat worth a toord!”... (full context)