The Canterbury Tales
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Why is the Knight first in the General Prologue and first to tell a tale?
2. What makes the Pardoner so offensive?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Compare the Miller’s Tale with either the Reeve’s Tale or the Summoner’s Tale. What are the different characteristics that make each tale a fabliau? Consider comic timing, plot intricacy, and the cast of characters within the tale.
2. Is the Wife of Bath meant to contradict the misogynist (woman-hating) ideas of her time, or to uphold them? Use the text to back up your argument.
3. Compare the ideals of courtly love in the Knight’s Tale with those in the Wife of Bath’s Tale. How are they different? How are they the same? Is there a difference in the way the female characters act in the two tales?
4. How does Chaucer conceive of ancient history and belief systems in the Knight’s Tale? How is his vision anachronistic? How does he attempt to make it less so? What is the function of time and the seasons in the tale?
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