Essays on The Canterbury Tales

The Canterbury Tales
Original title The Canterbury Tales
Author Geoffrey Chaucer

African-American Literature

Language Middle English
Characters the narrator, Chaucer, the characters in the various stories told by the pilgrims
Published c. 1400 (unfinished at Chaucer's death)
ISBN 978-0-14-044424-2
Book Summary
Essay Examples

Table of Contents

About The Canterbury Tales Book

The Canterbury tales book is a collection of 24 short stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 to 1400. It runs to over 17,000 lines and is called Chaucer’s Magnum Opus. It is revered as one of the most critical works in English literature, even though it remained unfinished due to Chaucer’s death.

In The Canterbury Tales book, we see a group of pilgrims complete a storytelling contest on their way to Canterbury Cathedral. As we read further, we will realize the reasons for these stories and how they relate to late medieval England’s concerns. According to the varying personalities of the storytellers, the stories also range from lessons in morality, human nature, mischief, and even desire.

Book Summary

The narrative starts with a gathering of people preparing for a journey at Tabard Inn in London. Their destination was the shrine of St. Becket in Canterbury, and this pilgrimage was a yearly occurrence for them.

Chaucer is amongst the people preparing for this journey. The host suggests they all take turns telling a story as they travel, and whoever tells the best take would receive a free meal upon their return to London. There are about 24 tales, which led to the speculation that Chaucer did not finish because the story noted some people who made the journey but didn’t tell a tale. 

The Knight, the Man of Law, the Wife of Bath, the Clerk, the Franklin, the Prioress, the Nun’s Priest, the Parson, the Merchant, and the Second Nun all tell morality tales. Those who told tragic tales upset the host and were told to tell more light-hearted tales.

The Canterbury Tales Quotes

The Canterbury Tales book has been used so many times in colleges and high schools because it is a great work of literature and contains hilarious anecdotes. To write a The Canterbury Tales essay, you will need a strong hook. Here are some quotes that may help you get started:

Chaucer: “May will have no sluggardly at night, Season that pricks in every gentle heart, Awaking it from sleep, and bids it starts.”

Wife of Bath: “People may guess or frame a supposition, But I can say for certain, it’s no lie, God bade us all to wax and multiply. That kindly text I well can understand.”

Theseus: “He well knew why He did, and what He meant. For in that fairest chain of love He bound. Fire and air and water and the ground. Of earth, in certain limits, they may not flee.”

Chaucer: “Though there was nowhere one so busy as he. He was less busy than he seemed to be.”

Essay Structure on The Canterbury Tales

When writing The Canterbury Tales essays or any other type of academic writing, it is vital to create an outline to enable you to transition from one paragraph to the next in a way that will not confuse the reader. The outline introduces your ideas gradually and should be written in the following manner:


Your introduction must begin with a hook to prompt the reader into reading to the end. This hook could be questions or a powerful quote, but it must arrest the reader’s attention. After the hook, you must expressly state the context of your essay and the themes it embodies. Lastly, your introduction should contain a thesis statement that should singularly explain the topic expressively.


This is the main context of The Canterbury Tales. Here, your words must effectively convey the message with facts and evidence. A standard body comprises three main paragraphs; each must have a topic sentence and a few supporting sentences.

Remember, you must do enough research to ensure you are only stating factual points. When writing a body paragraph, ask yourself these three questions:

  •       What is the essence of this paragraph?
  •       What point am I hoping to make?
  •       Am I stating claims or facts?


We understand why a student might want to treat the conclusion as an afterthought. However, it is equally as important as the rest of the article and should be given the same time and effort.

This is because a reader might have gone through your introduction and body, but this is the point you can change their mind and get them on your side. Do this by reinforcing the thesis and wrapping up your ideas.

6 Tips to Consider While Writing An essay about The Canterbury Tales

Aside from creating the perfect outline, students must know how to write a resounding essay that stays on the reader’s mind for a long time. One characteristic of a strong essay is the ability to sway the reader’s emotions while helping them analyze the topic from a different point of view. To do this, here are certain tips worth knowing:

Read the Book

The Canterbury Tales book is 912 pages long. Although this might seem like a long read, it is subdivided into several short stories, so you don’t have to read it in one go! However, the stories are linked, so the transition from one pilgrim’s tale to another is seamless. Depending on whose tale you would be required to write, you must read the book to understand. Once this is done, you can move on to the next step.

Choose Interesting Titles

If you are given the liberty to choose an essay topic yourself, ensure it’s something you are truly interested in. This is why it is important to read the book. This way, you will know what section resonates with you the most. If you pick a topic you find interesting; research would be less of a chore and more of a lesson.

Draw a Format

Now that you’ve read the book and chosen a great topic, the next step is to start your introduction compellingly. Write a short but interesting hook that will hold your reader at attention and keep them rivaled till it’s over. Your hook should be in the opening sentence of your essay. The best writing formation is the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Write your Thesis

Every article must have a main idea, and The Canterbury Tales summary is no different. This idea that encompasses the context of the essay is what we call a thesis statement and is one of the most critical pieces in your essay. Make sure to include it in the concluding part of your essay for maximum effect on the reader.

Establish an Emotional Connection

Forming an emotional connection is one of the best ways to keep readers invested in The Canterbury Tales essays. If they are emotionally invested, they will not put it down until they read to the end, which is one of the main goals of essay writing. You can emotionally touch the reader by writing about personal experiences or using word imagery. Another major way this can be done is by including a moral lesson.

Conclusion: Proofread

This final step is necessary to ensure that your essay is free from grammatical and spelling errors. Never submit your first draft because it is rarely of high quality. Rewrite your essay the second time, run it through spell checkers, and manually read it yourself as many times as possible.

The Canterbury Tales is great literature, and you have to be able to capture the essence of the book in your words. We offer professional writing services to assist you if you feel like you’re not up to the task.


What is The Canterbury Tales story about?

The story follows the journey of 30 pilgrims from an inn in Southwark to the Canterbury Cathedral. As they journey, each of these pilgrims tells their tales in a bid to win the contest and get a free meal.

What is the most famous Canterbury Tale?

Miller’s tale is the most famous. It is very comedic and has maximum effect coming from the seriousness of the Knight’s tale. It is about a University of Oxford student who formed an adulterous relationship with a carpenter’s wife. It’s also titled “fabliau,” or a comic skit.

 Why is The Canterbury Tales so important?

It is considered necessary because it employs poetic power to tell stories nicely. It also tells stories of the past and how lives were lived back in those days of the 14th century.

What is the main point of The Canterbury Tales?

It is a social satire on how medieval society was set on three foundations: Nobility, religion, and peasantry. Each pilgrim told a story that explored all these segments I’m a relatable manner. 

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FAQ about The Canterbury Tales

How Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is Still Relevant in Society Today
...The Canterbury Tales is a reflection of then and now. Women are still seen as inferior, there is still corruption, and people are still deceitful. To make all of this connect to today, The Canterbury Tales should still be read and studied. Students c...
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