The Canterbury Tales
This work was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the last decade of the XIV century; it became his masterpiece because however the author inspired himself to the Italian model (especially to the three greatest Italian authors: Dante, Petrarca and Boccaccio), he had been able to create an original work. Unfortunately, “The Canterbury Tales” is an unfinished opera, because Chaucer died before finishing it.
This work is so important because Chaucer used it to give to England the concepts of unity and national consciousness: while in the other states of Europe a lot of national monarchies were born, England wasn’t an unitary state because it was divided into the aristocracy, the Church and the peasants. That’s why Chaucer needed to create a work to fight this sad situation: first of all, he created a new language, called “Middle English”, that was a mix among the three languages spoken in the island at that time (French in the court, Latin by the Clergy and the Old English by the people). Then, the characters used by the author in his work were from all the social classes in which was divided England, and during the narration he never judged their behaviours, because he didn’t want to defend only a specific class: conversely he wrote ironically and with tolerance.
“The Canterbury Tales” is very similar to the Decameron, because it’s a collection of tales held together by a framework, which consist in a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, more precisely to Thomas Becket’s shrines, during the month of April (this is a realistic condition, because April was the month most accredited to have long trips because it isn’t so hot but it isn’t also so cold).
The protagonists are 30 pilgrims, who were ordinary people from different social classes (unlike the Decameron, where Boccaccio told about characters only from the aristocracy).
Initially there were only 29 characters who decided to go to Canterbury Cathedral and went to a tabard inn to spend the night; there, the tabard inn’s host decided to join the company and he also suggest that each pilgrim would tell four tales, two on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back, to enjoy the travel.
Although the work should be 120 stories, in fact there are less ones because it’s an unfinished opera.