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How Chaucer brought characters to life in the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer brought characters to life by basing their personality traits on real people. Please provide examples.

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The caravan of the Canterbury Tales brings laughter and charms readers because of the jolly chemistry that each character exudes. Sometimes this chemistry ends up in an explosion, but it always seems to fizzle out with a plea from the Host for the quarrelers to amend their differences. This character trait of argumentation in each personality is one that makes the Canterbury Tales realistically believable. In combination with Chaucer's clever use of vocabulary, the personalities of the caravan add a unique quality to the stories that can be compared to no other. Many scholars have argued that the characters actually existed and have done extensive research to prove that these individuals were real people. This might have been the case, but there is no substantial evidence available that suggests they lived. On the contrary, there is evidence that Chaucer's characters possessed several personality traits of those who existed during Chaucer's day.

The Friar and the Summoner are both characters that mirror each other in the book. These two savvy characters cunningly expose each other's downfalls by telling Tales that bare their own personal faults. Particularly the Friar, among many of the others in the caravan, exemplifies characteristics of real Friars that existed during the time of Chaucer. As evidence, in the General Prologue, Chaucer chooses to characterize the Friar as being a philanthropist who is "So muchel of daliaunce and fair langage," and states that in all of the four orders of Friars, there was none like him, (line 211, pg 26). The mention of the four orders suggests to the reader that this particular Friar is a true example of an individual from one of the four orders of Friars that existed during Chaucer's time. There is historical evidence that there were many principal orders of Friars that flourished during the thirteenth century, and this can be confirmed by reviewing the writings of Lester ...

Solution Summary

The historical context in which Chaucer used to base his characters is one that makes them believable and easy for readers to identify with. This excerpt provides a solid reference for students to refer to when writing a paper on the Canterbury Tales. It also provides students with characters that they can examine when trying to pick apart which ones may have actually existed during Chaucer's time. It additionally explains why evidence presented to substantiate their existence is so compelling.