Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Canterbury Tales: Introduction
The Canterbury Tales: Plot Summary
The Canterbury Tales: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Canterbury Tales: Themes
The Canterbury Tales: Quotes
The Canterbury Tales: Characters
The Canterbury Tales: Symbols
The Canterbury Tales: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Geoffrey Chaucer
Historical Context of The Canterbury Tales
Other Books Related to The Canterbury Tales
- Full Title: The Canterbury Tales
- When Written: End of the 14th century
- Where Written: London, England
- When Published: England
- Literary Period: Medieval
- Genre: Estate satire
- Setting: The road to Canterbury, England
- Climax: No climax: each Tale has its own climax, but the Tales as a whole are unfinished, and though they are interconnected in terms of characters and themes, there is not a single plot thread that develops throughout.
- Point of View: Many different characters tell their tales, but the whole frame narrative is told through the eyes of Chaucer the pilgrim. It’s also important to keep in mind that the Tales are unfinished. Each pilgrim is supposed to get two tales––one for the road to Canterbury, and one for the way back––but several of the pilgrims don’t even get one story, and they never actually make it to Canterbury.
Extra Credit for The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer Tweeteth. Though Chaucer likely did not foresee a digital future for the Tales, he has a very active social networking presence, particular under the Twitter handle “LeVostreGC”(https://twitter.com/LeVostreGC). The blogosphere has adopted Chaucer in sites such as “Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog” (http://houseoffame.blogspot.com), which is written in a fake Middle English and features entries “written” not only by Chaucer but by his son and his contemporaries.
Chaucer Through the Ages. Since its first publication, The Canterbury Tales has never been out of print, and they have inspired countless adaptations and re-workings. In his Autobiography, Ben Franklin claimed, perhaps as a joke, that his last name came from Chaucer’s Franklin. The whole genre of the buddy road-trip movie can be traced to the structure of the Tales. Some recent adaptations have included the 2001 film A Knight’s Tale, featuring Paul Bettany playing Chaucer himself.