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The Canterbury Tales


Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

3) Why do the characters tell stories in The Canterbury Tales?

The characters in The Canterbury Tales tell stories to pass time on their pilgrimage to Canterbury and to compete for a free supper. As the Host observes, “rid[ing] . . . dumb as a stone” is no fun, so the travelers naturally plan to “amuse [themselves]” with stories on the days-long trip to the Canterbury Cathedral. While the Host’s words imply that the storytelling was planned in advance, the Host sweetens the pot by suggesting a competition and promising the winner a free supper.