The Canterbury Tales

96927-004-9c7183a0The Canterbury Tales is a book of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century. This is a very important book because it is one of the first to be written in the English language. The Canterbury Tales is written in Middle English, the type of English that most ordinary people used in Chaucer’s day. Chaucer was one of the first authors who wrote stories in English. Before, stories were written in Latin or French.
The book is about a group of travellers who are going from London to Canterbury. As they travel along, each person tells a tale. This is why the book is called The Canterbury Tales.
Chaucer planned to write 120 tales, but only 24 were completed. Chaucer began to write the stories in the 1380′. He stopped writing them in the 1390s. Some think that he deliberately did not write the total 120 stories.
Two of the stories are written in prose and the others are written in verse. They were so popular that he was invited to read his stories to the king and royal court.

Background
The Canterbury Tales is about a group of people who are pilgrims. They are travelling on a journey to an important religious site. In the Middle Ages, many Christian people went on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury. Canterbury Cathedral was a famous pilgrimage site because it contained the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket.
Many pilgrims used to meet together in London. When pilgrims gathered in a group, the group could be made up of many different kinds of people, both rich and poor, noble and humble. The groups often contained a number of religious people such as priests, monks and nuns. In Chaucer’s story, the most noble person is a knight. Among the more ordinary people are a cook, a sailor, a farmer and a miller.caxtonct

The tales
The Canterbury Tales begins with a Prologue (which means “a few words to begin”). In the prologue Chaucer describes the time of year, which is April, when the weather begins to get warmer after winter. He says that it is at this time that people begin to go on pilgrimage. Chaucer tells the reader about the people who are gathered at the inn. He describes the people so clearly that many of them have become famous characters in English Literature, and have often been shown in paintings. Chaucer describes how each person tells a story to entertain the other as they travel along.
Some of the tales are: The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale,  The Wife of Bath’s Tale, The Friar’s Tale, The Pardoner’s Tale, The Nun’s Priest’sTale.
Some of the tales  are serious and others are funny. Some of the funny stories are vulgar (sexually rude). A lot of the tales talk about the Christian faith. Sometimes the theme (main idea) of one story is followed into the next story, as a new story-teller responds to a story they have just heard. All of the tales are about the way that people think and behave towards each other.

Synopsis
On an April day, a group of medieval pilgrims set out on a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury to pay their respects to the tomb of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The group is described in detail, with characters from all classes, upper and lower, represented. Religious characters, such as a monk and a pardoner, travel alongside a sailor, miller, carpenter, and a knight, among others. When the group stops for the night, the host of the pilgrimage proposes that they all tell stories to each other along the way. The pilgrims agree to tell four stories each, two on the way to Canterbury, and two on the way back. The person who tells the best story, as determined by the host, will have his way paid by the rest of the group. The tale-telling begins with the knight and proceeds as the pilgrims near Canterbury, each person telling a story that reflects their social position, and some telling stories which are intended to make fun of others in the group. No winner is chosen by the host in the end, and only a few of the pilgrims have told their tales by the time the story ends because Chaucer died before he could finish it. Chaucer begins the work with a retraction apologizing for anything in the stories which may have been inappropriate.

The Miller’s Tale. Plot
John, a rich old carpenter of Oxford has a young wife, the eighteen-year-old Alison, whom he guards carefully, for he is very jealous. He has a boarder, the clerk Nicholas, who makes advances to Alison; she quickly agrees and they determine to consummate the affair. Absolon, the parish clerk and village dandy, also lusts for Alison, but he woos her in vain, for Nicholas is there first.
Nicholas tricks John into thinking that Noah’s flood is coming again; John rigs up three kneading tubs, in which he, Nicholas, and Alison can float until the waters recede. When the flood is due, all three climb up into the tubs. John goes to sleep, Alison and Nicholas go back to the bedroom. They are interrupted by Absolon, who has come to woo Alison at the window. She promises him a kiss and puts her backside out the window. Absolon kisses it.
He soon realizes his mistake. He gets a red hot poker from Gervase, the smith, and returns to ask for another kiss. Nicholas puts his backside out, Absolon strikes it with the red-hot poker, Nicholas yells for water; the carpenter awakes and thinks the flood has come, cuts loose his tub and falls and breaks his arm. The neighbors rush in, and all are convinced old John is mad.

The BBC Miller’s Tale
John (Dennis Waterman) runs a pub in suburban Kent. He hosts a regular Karaoke night, where his much younger wife Alison (Billie Piper) is queen bee. One night a smooth talking stranger, Nick (James Nesbitt), arrives claiming to be a talent scout and declaring that Alison has what it takes to be a star. Alison is drawn to him by the promise of fame, but his motives aren’t quite what they seem.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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Nota: En esta página podéis encontrar varios de los Cuentos de Canterbury en forma de rap.

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