The Canterbury Tales is a set of 24 stories written during the fourteenth century by Geoffrey Chaucer in Middle English. The Canterbury Tales is widely considered as Chaucer’s magnum opus. The plot of the stories is about a band of pilgrims who travel together from London with the end goal being Canterbury to visit a shrine for Saint Thomas a Becket, also referred to as the “holy blissful martyr” at the Canterbury Cathedral (Schwartz). The structure of the 24 stories is driven by the plot, wherein the Host at the Tabard in suggests that each of the pilgrims relate two tales during their journey to Canterbury, and that he will reward the best tale. Each pilgrim represented a certain stereotype or type of person in Chaucer’s society then (Blamires 533). This essay will focus on who my character is, what he does for a living, what his key character traits are, how he fits into the narratives of the other pilgrims during the journey to Canterbury, and how this makes for an interesting read for the readers.
Creating a new character that will fit into Chaucer’s time-worn tale is not an easy task. My character, who shall be known as The Banker, will take on the role as a modern stereotypical moneygrubbing, profit driven banker whose moral compass is questionable on every front. He wears a three piece suit like any other white collar worker on Wall Street, with leathered Oxford shoes and his hair slicked back; he is the envy of many of our current generation. The other pilgrims find his dressing weird and out of place, though they admit that it makes him look elegant and chic.
When my character, the Banker, tells the rest of the twenty nine pilgrims that he is a banker, they do not fully understand his role in society, and even think that he is a time traveller. They find his profession of making money through what he introduces as the ‘international stock market’ amusing and they ask that he tags along with them, to see if his story can outdo theirs in telling the most best tale among the them. It is likely, due to the fact that back then, social classes were important and people stuck to others of similar social status, that my character will gravitate toward the Merchant (Brewer 294). This is because they both come from a background involving wealth and money, and their dressing stands out from the other pilgrims. For instance, Chaucer introduces the Merchant’s physical appearances with a “forking beard”, “motley dress” and “daintily buckled boots” (Chaucer 31).
During the pilgrims’ journey, their secondary goal is to win the Host’s prize by telling the best story. During which, my character the Banker will relate to the others the concept of making money through making observations about the stock market. They do not understand what a stock market is, so my character likens his occupation to that of the Merchant, who makes profits by buying commodities like furs and clothes at a low price before selling it at the market. My character discusses an economic depression and likens it to a marketplace on fire, to the horrors of the other pilgrims. They exchange stories during this period.
In conclusion, the inclusion of my character in Chaucer’s tale makes for a more interesting read. At the end of the journey to Canterbury, my character invariably finds himself in awe of the Saint Thomas a Beckett shrine. Just like most of the others, he finds spiritual peace being in the presence of the shrine, and is pleased that he made the long journey with the other pilgrims. The pilgrims decide on what to do next now that they have achieved their goal. They decide to head back to Tabard’s Inn for the revelation of the Host prize’s winner…
- Blamires, Alcuin. “Chaucer The Reactionary Ideology And the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales.” Review of English Studies, 51 (204), 2000, 523-539. Print.
- Brewer, D. S. “Class Distinction in Chaucer.” Speculum, 43 (2), 1968: 290–305. JSTOR, Web. 28 July 2017.
- Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. London: Penguin Classics, 2008. Print
- Schwartz, Debora B. “The Three estates” California Polytechnic State University. 2009. Web. 28 July 2017.