Geoffrey Chaucer: General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

(2483 words)
  • Michael Delahoyde (Washington State University)

The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales justifies Chaucer’s traditional title as “father of English poetry”. In couplets of iambic pentameter, the General Prologue introduces a wide range of characters from various occupations and social strata, and contextualizes these pilgrims with a realism not encountered previously in English poetry.

Chaucer seems to have struck on the idea of The Canterbury Tales in the mid- or late-1380s, and 1387 works best as a hypothetical date for the fictional pilgrimage to have taken place (based on internal temporal and geographical references, and, externally, on the ramifications of Holy Week and Easter falling variously within the relevant years). For the …

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Delahoyde, Michael. "General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 August 2008
[, accessed 07 July 2015.]