Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer Essay – Infidelity and Corruption in 14th Century England

September 15, 2015

Content canterbury tales essay

Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer Essay – Not Your Another Old Epic Poem

If you think the Canterbury Tales is just another old epic poem, written in a language that is hardly distinguishable as English, think again. You will actually find a little bit of everything in this work – love, sex, corruption, humor, anger, and infidelity.

The Issues of the Work

The problem the most college students have when they have to read The Canterbury Tales, is that literature professors want them to read it in the original language and style. And if they thought Shakespeare was tough to read, they will find this work almost impossible. And many students really miss the great stories because they are struggling so to decipher the language. The solution for this, of course, is to find a modern English translation and read it along with reading the original.

The other issue with the work is that it was never finished. Even though it was published in 1392, all of the tales were obviously not included, as 29 of the 30 travelers were each to tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. And, because of the lack of a printing press, of course, each copy had to be handwritten. Chaucer died in 1400, and the work remains just a partial one.

Writing the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

You will no doubt be assigned an essay on this work, because it will be a substantial part of an early English literature course. And finding a good topic may be a bit of a struggle. Here are a few suggestions for The Canterbury Tales essay:

  1. Compare and contrast the concepts of love in the knight’s tale and the wife of Bath’s tale. How do these reflect the socioeconomic class differences of the times?
  2. How is the Miller’s tale like the Reeve’s tale? Consider comic elements and the characters within those two tales.
  3. Why do you believe there was so much focus on sex and sin in these tales?
  4. Chaucer was personally very critical of the Church, and it came through loudly and clearly in this work. What specific things did Chaucer chastise the Church for, as shown in the tales and in the comments of the other travelers?
  5. It is said that Chaucer developed the Canterbury Tales characters based upon character types that could be found in the society of his day. Take any two characters from the work and identify contemporary character types that are similar.

Some Additional Tips

  1. Again, do not struggle with the language – you will miss out on the “fun” of the stories. Get a modern English translation.
  2. Be certain that when you craft your essay, you have a solid introduction that states your topic and gives a good thesis statement.
  3. If you continue to struggle with topic, thesis, or the writing, get some professional help from an exceptional writing service like