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How Is the Narrator in the Canterbury Tales Portrayed?

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The narrator appears to be naive, yet in reality, he is very observant. He sees peoples’ real personalities vividly. Moreover, he uses dramatic irony to describe the characters, their striving, and how they contradict each other.

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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a landmark of English medieval literature. Within these stories, a group of pilgrims is on the way to Canterbury. Their goal is the shrine to Saint Thomas Becket. At some point, they engage in a storytelling contest. Each of the pilgrims ought to tell four stories before they reach the shrine. The group is diverse, with people coming from all sorts of lives. The gathering of such people in one place with a similar purpose propels the narrator to tell these stories.

The narrator in the Canterbury Tales is Chaucer. He is a character separate from the author. He narrates the story of the pilgrims arriving at the inn, the owner of which proposes a storytelling contest. Moreover, Chaucer also tells his own stories. As the narrator, his role is to relay the experiences with as many details as possible. So, his primary characteristic is the ability to observe. Over the course of the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer pays attention to people, the manner they speak and behave.

At the same time, the author portrays Chaucer in two major ways. On the one hand, he exhibits distinctly naive thinking. Particularly, he takes peoples’ words for granted and trusts them. On the other hand, there are instances where the narrator shows himself in a different light. Chaucer turns out to be a person with subtle English humor. He likes irony and uses it to describe what the pilgrims want and what they constitute in reality.

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IvyPanda. "How Is the Narrator in the Canterbury Tales Portrayed?" November 23, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/how-is-the-narrator-in-the-canterbury-tales-portrayed/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "How Is the Narrator in the Canterbury Tales Portrayed?" November 23, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/how-is-the-narrator-in-the-canterbury-tales-portrayed/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'How Is the Narrator in the Canterbury Tales Portrayed'. 23 November.

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