By Bernard Felix Huppe
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Extra resources for A Reading of the Canterbury Tales
However, no structure of interpretation may be built on what is not there, through hypothesizing either conclusions to unfinished tales or unwritten links between the Fragments. On the other hand, the way the Canterbury Tales begins and ends need not be ignored, nor such obvious connections between the tales, as that the Miller's Tale is a ''requiting" of the Knight's Tale, the Summoner's of the Friar's, and that the Merchant and the Clerk have the Wife of Bath in mind when they tell their tales.
For the Middle Ages it was a key word, suggesting the end and purpose of man's life on earth. His life was thought of as a journey toward an eternal destination: Heaven or Hell. Literal pilgrims journeying to Compestella or Canterbury, or palmers seeking Jerusalem, were making a symbolic journey, indicative of their true destination, Heaven; showing that in the journey of this life they were willing to throw off the concerns of living in the world to undertake a spiritual journey. But palmers had become notorious for their lack of spiritual motivation, for their traveller's search for "straunge strondes," that is, a search for a pleasurable sensation, adventure, in this world.
For example, a description of the function of the "outridere'' has taught something significant about the Monk as a type of monastic businessman. 13 Here only certain elements of rhetorical design will be examined as they are indicative of Chaucer's strategy of characterization, in particular his manner of suggesting in the portraits a scale of values from the ideal of the true pilgrim to the corruptness of the false pilgrim. Page 31 The Knight. The Knight represents the ideal of knighthood, and is so described, but with masterful economy which avoids platitudinous generalization.