The Canterbury Tales

Characters

The Host

Characters The Host

A cheerful, friendly person, the Host focuses the pilgrims and keeps the storytelling contest from devolving into chaos. Although Chaucer narrates the events of the frame story, the Host takes charge of the contest and creates structure. As they travel, he urges each pilgrim to share a story, gives advice about its tone and content, and even stops stories that he feels are poorly told. The Host keeps the storytelling contest running, and his ongoing commentary on the characters’ personalities and the themes of their stories helps readers follow Chaucer’s ideas more closely. The Host further keeps the momentum by helping pilgrims who have fallen out with each other to reconcile. For example, he intervenes in the Friar and Summoner’s argument, urging the Friar to tell a tale that doesn’t mock summoners. Notably, the Host interacts with all of the pilgrims with the same level of cheer, regardless of social class. His role in the pilgrimage thus reflects his job title. As an innkeeper, he must host and please a wide variety of people, making him the ideal emcee for a contest involving such a motley crew of pilgrims.