In spring thirty people, all belonging to different social classes and including Chaucer himself, are going on a pilgrimage to Thomas Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. They gather at the Tabard Inn in London. The host suggest that every pilgrims should tell two stories while going and two coming back. The winner will be a prize. All the pilgrims agree and set off.
The work consists of a ‘general Prologue’ where the pilgrims are introduced. The tales are preceded by a prologue.
Canterbury is the symbol of the celestial city itself, the end of life, and the journey of the pilgrims becomes the allegory of the course of human life. However, the work remained unfinished, and Canterbury is not reached by the pilgrims.
REALISM AND ALLEGORY
Chaucer used rhyming couplets made up of iambic pentameters. The most distinctive feature of the work is the realism, in fact, the author used the convention of exaggeration, caricature and the grotesque. The pilgrimage is also a by metaphor for life from the religious sphere.
The tales are narrated by the different pilgrims but the reporting pilgrims is Chaucer himself.
Chaucer wanted to give a portrait of England society. He doesn’t portray the aristocracy of the peasants; this is because no nobleman would have travelled with commoners but instead with their own entourage.