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The Canterbury Tales

Summary

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

5) How are the stories organized?

While nobody knows the exact order in which Chaucer intended to organize the tales, Chaucer does group the tales thematically instead of by the pilgrims’ social statuses, as would have been expected in his day. After the highest-ranking pilgrim, the Knight, finishes his tale, the Miller, a pilgrim of low standing, disrupts the Host’s order by telling the next story. From there, the tales often respond to each other. The Reeve insists on following the Miller because “The Miller’s Tale” insults reeves. The Wife of Bath’s, Clerk’s, and Merchant’s tales appear near one another and each story explores themes of marriage and gender.