Canterbury Tales

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The Canterbury Tales is an unfinshed collection of tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The frame tale that tells of a diverse collection of characters travelling together on a pilgrimage to Canterbury who tell each other stories to pass the time. For the most part Chaucer uses decasyllabic rhyming couplets as his poetic meter, though he occasionally changes where he thinks it appropriate.

Chaucer wrote only one of the tales contained within the collection, the rest were taken from various sources including Boccaccio and several fabliaux.

Each tale is told by a different character, and that character's personality is reflected in the story told. The Wife of Bath tells a story about what women want in a husband, the Miller tells a bawdy story and the Reeve, having been angered by the Miller, tells a story in which the butt of the joke is a Miller.

One of the more controversial characters in recent times has been the Knight. Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, wrote a book that challenged the traditional view of the Knight as a paragon of chivalry, pointing out that he was almost certainly a mercenary, and that the long list of crusades that this knight had appeared in were described by Chaucer's colleague John of Gower as singularly unchivalric exercises. The movie The Knight's Tale was loosely based on this character, using the name of another historical knight, Ulrich von Liechtenstein.

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