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The Canterbury Tales

Short Answer Quiz

Short Answer Quiz


  1. What is the cultural and theological reason for making a pilgrimage? It was relatively easy for an English person to travel to Canterbury. What does that tell you about Chaucer’s group of pilgrims?  

  1. In the General Prologue, the narrator takes more than a dozen pages to describe many of the pilgrims. Why do you think Chaucer included these lengthy descriptions? How do the characterizations of the pilgrims who are included in the few tales in this Anthology correlate to the tale they tell?

  1. Describe the frame-tale. What do you think is the purpose of using the device? How does it enhance your understanding of the cultural and theological context of the stories?

  1. How do you judge the behavior of Nicholas and Alison toward John and Absolom in The Miller’s Tale? How do you think the pilgrims judged their behavior? Why do you think there is or isn’t a difference?

  1. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue reveals much about her character. How did she use her sexuality to control her husbands? What did she hope to gain from manipulating her husbands? How successful and happy do you think she is? Does she have any regrets?

  1. In what ways might the Wife of Bath be considered a feminist, and in what ways might she be considered an antifeminist?

  1. Compare the views of married life in The Miller’s Tale and in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue. 

  1. In The Pardoner’s Prologue, he reveals many illicit facts about himself.  How does he earn his living? What is wrong with how he conducts his business? What is Chaucer satirizing in the clergy that the Pardoner represents? How should a Pardoner behave?

  1. The Pardoner’s Tale recounts a wonderfully ironic story. Why is the fate of the three men both ironic and inevitable?

  1. From the few tales you’ve read, what can you surmise about Chaucer’s worldview? What is his attitude toward the pilgrims, both as individuals and as representatives of types?

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