Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales, riassunto (2023)

The Canterbury tales:

The life and times of Geoffrey Chaucer:

Turbulent Turbolento Ransom Riscatto

Diplomat Diplomatico Lady-in- Dama di

waiting corte

Negotiation Negoziato Purse Borsetta

Commerce Commercio Pension Pensione

Plague Pestilenza To march Marciare

Shortage Scarsità, To suppress Reprimere


Labourer Bracciante- Jurisprudenc Giurispruden

lavoratore e za

Peasant Contadino Alchemy Alchemia

To Accompagna

accompany re

Summary: Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London around 1340 and

died in 1400. He lived in one of the most turbolent times in the

English history, during that time the English King changed three

times, it was also the time of the Hundred Years’ War and it was the

time when the plague killed millions of people. Chaucer was a

political man who worked for the government and he knew how to

speak English, French (as England was a country of two languages),

Latin (as it was the trade language at the time) and Italian too, so

that’s the reason way he translated a lot of works and wrote a ton

of thing about astrology, alchemy and jurisprudence. He did some

diplomatic missions: he served for the wife of Prince Lionel, served

for the Hundred Years’ War, when he was captured near the Reims.

He was also sent to Genoa and Florence where he read the works of

Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio which had a big influence for his

literary style. As Chaucer’s patron guided the new King of England,

Chaucer continued doing many missions for England and became a

member of the Parliament in 1386 after a lot of his money were

stolen because he had worked as the clerk of many monuments in

London. That was the time when in 1387 he started writing The

Canterbury Tales that was intended to be formed by 120 tales.

Although Chaucer has important jobs and many problems so that’s

the reason why he had never finished the poem. He continued until

his death in 1400 when was buried near Westminster Abbey and

then moved to the Poet’s Corner inside the Abbey with other

famous poets.

Chapter 1, The Prologue:

Pilgrimage Pelligrinaggio Austere Severo

Shrine Reliquiario Holy Sacra

Stable Stalla Monk Monaco

Honourable Onorato Pompusly Pomposamen


Magnanimou Magnanimo Profit Profitto


Wise Saggio Worthy Meritevole

To embroider Ricamare Deaf Sordo

To joust Gareggiare Pimple Brufolo

Courteous Cortese Bump Bozzo, gobba

Bow Arco Summon Convocazion


Manner Maniera Sinner Peccatore

Trap Trappola Amusement Divertimento

Coral Corallo Knight Cavaliere

Rosary Rosario Squire Propietario


To conquer Conquistare Flute Flauto

Chaplain Cappellano Courageous Coraggioso

Priest Prete Prelate Ecclesiastico

Cloister Monastero To twinkle Luccicare

To exchange Cambiare Clerk Ecclesiastico-


Sergeant Sergente Practitioner Professionist


Franklin Un uomo Summoner Convocatore


Summary : The narrator opens the Prologue with a description of the

return of spring. Around this time of year, people start going on

pilgrimages. Many devout English pilgrims set off to travel to

Canterbury to visit the relics of Saint Thomas Becket in the Canterbury

Cathedral. The narrator tells us that as he prepared to go on a

pilgrimage, with a great company of many travellers, who were on

their way to Canterbury. That night, the group slept at the tavern, and

woke up early the next morning to set off on their journey. Before

continuing the tale, the narrator describes each of the members of the

group: the Knight, a courageous soldier of high class on a horse, the

squire a beautiful, young and lovable man, the yeoman, the nun a

cultured and quiet woman, the monk an active and handsome man,

the friar a member of a mendicant religious community, the merchant

a common person in commerce, a very cultured Clerk, a lawyer, the

franklin who was a country and simple gentleman, a doctor who used

astrology for curing people, a woman who had many husbands, the

Summoner and the padroner a man who gives papal indulgences.

Chapter 2, The Knight’s Tale:

Conquered Conquistato Loss Perdita

Tyrant Tiranno Fury Furia

To wound- Ferire- ferita Cowardice Codardia


Despair Disperazione Worsened Peggiorato

Weak Debole Inconsolable inconsolabile

Labourer Lavoratore Pyre Pira

By chance Per caso Mourned Piangere qlc

Weapon Arma Spear Lancia

To clatter Sferragliare- Schield Scudo


Decreed Decretato To assemble Assemblare

Pomp Sfarzo Tactic Tattica

To roar Ruggire Despair Disperazione

Summary: The Knight’s Tale talks about Theseus the lord of

Athens. One day he was returning to Athens with his little daughter

Emily when they heard some women crying. Those women asked

for help, because their husbands were killed by Creon and were

given to dogs to eat. Theseus left Emily home and then killed Creon

and he gave the women their husbands’ bones. At the end of the

battle, Theseus found only two knights who were still alive and he

took them to prison. They were Plamon and Arcite, two noble

cousins. Years passed and one day Emily, who had grown up so

beautiful, was singing in the palace and the two cousins saw her

through the prison’s bars, and fell in love with her. They started

arguing about who had the right to love her, then, a Duke, who

knew Arcite well, asked Theseus to set Arcite free with the condition

that he never returned to Athens. Palamon, as he was jealous of his

cousins because he could see Emily in the palace, started being

melancholic and grew thin and pale. One night Mercury appeared to

him in a dream and told Arcite to come back to Athens so he could

end his despair. When he arrived there, dressed as a labourer called

Philostrate, he met Palamon, who had escaped from prison. They

argued and decided to start a duel the next day to win Emily’s love.

The next day, when the duel was about to begin, Theseus arrived

and was ready to kill them both but Emily came and had mercy on

them. Theseus told them to come back a year later with a big army

and fight in duel for Emily. The night before the battle Emily went to

Diana’s temple and prayed for the knights, Arcite went to pray Mars

for victory and Palamon prayed Venus. The next day the battle was

fought until afternoon when a sword struck Palamon and Arcite was

decreed as the winner but a funeral fury, sent by Pluto, burst out

the ground and wounded Arcite so much, that no doctor could cure

him. As he said his last words Palamon and Emily dressed in black

for many days, then, they got married and lived happily ever after

with Arcite in their hearts too.

Chapter 3:

Coarse Rude Gluttony Gola

Sermon Omelia Dung Letame

Holy Santo To gamble Giocare


Sin Peccato To hang Appendere

Betrayed Tradito To wrestle Lottare

Avarice Avarizia Apothecary Farmacia

Brothel Bordello Wickedness Cattiveria

Courteous Cortese, gentile Greed Avidità

Summary: The Padroner’s Tale talks about three young people who

made a lot of sins: they used to drink, eat and swear a lot. One

night, while they were drinking in a tavern, they heard funeral bells

and asked whose body was that. A man told them that it was a

friend of theirs who was killed by a men called Death. The three

men decided to leave the tavern and search for Death, as they

heard that he was the most famous killer in the village. When they

left the tavern, they met an ugly, poor and old man who greeted

them and told the guys that he was so old and ugly because not

even Death wants him so he is still alive. When the men heard the

old man talking about Death they thought he was a spy of his, so

they asked him where to find Death, them, following the man’s

instructions, they went through a path up a hill. When they arrived,

they found eight bags of gold and they made a plan to take them

home. One of the three boys went back to town and bought wine

and bread to celebrate with his friends, he went to an apothecary

for buying potions and put it in the bottle of wine to kill the other

men, so he could keep the gold all for himself. In the other hand,

the other two men, who were looking after the gold, planned to

murder the third, so they did. After that, they cheer and drank the

poisoned wine and died too. After telling the tale, the Pardoner told

the pilgrims to make offers to the holy relics, which were given by

the Pope, for having his absolution but everyone got very angry

because they knew those weren’t real relics.

Chaucer, the Church and Pilgrimages:

Monk Monaco Parson Parroco

Christianity Cristianità Relic Reliquia

Shrine Santuario- Tavern-keeper Proprietario

reliquiario della taverna

Pilgrimage Pellegrinaggio Depicted Raffigurato

Chancellor Cancelliere Accommodatio Alloggio


To rid Liberare da Satirize Fare satira su

Papacy Papato Damanging Dannosa

Priest Prete

Summary: Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims are travelling to Canterbury

for visiting the tomb of Thomas Beckett in the Cathedral that was

built in 597 when the Pope sent Saint Augustine to revive

Christianity in England. In 1170 the King Henry II assassinated

Thomas Beckett in the Cathedral because Thomas had fought very

hard for Church’s rights against the King. Two centuries later during

Geoffrey Chaucer’s time the Catholic Church was in great difficulty.

The French Popo Gregory XI decided to move the papacy from

Avignon to Rome after 70 years, because the Church had a

reputation of corruption at that time. After Gregory’s death the

Italian Pope Urban VI was elected, but, as he soon became

unpopular, many cardinals elected an antipope, Clement VII, who

returned to Avignon. This situation only ended in 1414 after

Chaucer’s death. Even if Chaucer has never criticized the Church’s

corruption, The Canterbury Tales shows the Church’s state of

decline with characters like the Monk, the Nun, the Priest with their

interests in wine, having fun, and by selling false holy relics. Many

studied thinks that the tavern keeper represents Christ as he is the

only character who isn’t described, he offers people food, appears

many times in the poem with his kindness. At Geoffrey Chaucer’s

time pilgrimages were common, especially the one to Canterbury.

Even if there are many pilgrimages in Boulogne, Rome and Santiago

the oldest and most famous one is the Via Francigena from Rome to

Canterbury (across France and Switzerland). Via Francigena is 2,000

km long and it takes 1 month to complete.

Chapter 4:

Widow Vedova To groan Gemere

Fence Recinto Coward Codardo

Cock-a- Chicchirichi Perch Posatoio

doodle-doo per uccelli

Reliable Affidabile Bile Ira

Jet Pietra Worm Verme

Dawn Alba To seize Agguantare

Courteous Cortese Flattery Compliment


Discreet Discreto Hive sciame

Hen Gallina Breeches Pantaloni

To cluck Chiocciare To bark Latrare

Geese Oca Negligent Disattento,


Summary: The nun’s tale talks about a widow who lived in a

modest farm and had a rooster called Chanticleer who had the best

cock-a-doodle-doo of the entire village. The hen had seven hens,

including wives and sisters, but his favourite was Mademoiselle

Pertelote. One day, Chanticleer sat near Mademoiselle Pertelote and

told her that he was very scared because he had dreamt of a

terrible creature kidnapping him. The hen was a bit disappointed

and told him to go away because she didn’t want to love a coward

who’s afraid of dreams, so Chanticleer, after talking about the fact

that many times dreams come true, flew back to the yard. Suddenly

a fox hidden in the bushes came out, frighten the hens, and told

Chanticleer to sing loud because he had heard that he had the best

cock-a-doodle-doo of the village. But, when Chantileer was about to


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