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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the Media

Bachelorarbeit 2012 48 Seiten

Anglistik - Literatur

Leseprobe

Table of contents

Table of Figures

1. Introduction

2. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

3. Viewing Chaucer
3.1. The historical Geoffrey Chaucer
3.2. The modern Geoffrey Chaucer

4. Forms of media
4.1 The medieval world of media and the media of the 21st century
4.2. A visit to the homepage of the Canterbury Tales Museum

5. The Canterbury Tales Museum: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and its representation of media
5.1. Recalling the impressions: The effect on the visitor
5.2. Hypothesising about the five represented Canterbury Tales

6. Interview with the Manager of the Canterbury Tales Museum
6.1. Interview Questions
6.2. Responses
6.3 Evaluation

7. Conclusion

Bibliography

Eidesstattliche Versicherung

Table of figures

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2: The Canterbury Tales, Guide Book, p. 10

1. Introduction

True love, human silliness, the role of women, or the people’s greed for material wealth are elementary issues about mankind and the human weaknesses. As recently as the fourteenth century, Geoffrey Chaucer pointed out these central messages in his Canterbury Tales. Therefore, Chaucer’s collections of stories have not been forgotten. The Canterbury Tales Museum, which is located in Canterbury, invites visitors to imagine the medieval world of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The question arouses, which methods have been used to portray the different Tales. For this reason, the present Bachelor-thesis deals with the issue in which way Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are represented in the media. An excursion to the Museum is going to examine used elements of media, which offer an insight into the representation of five significant works of his collection. The examination of the Bachelor-thesis is primarily based on the essential question whether the central issues of the Canterbury Tales are imparted with the help of different forms of media. An intended demonstration of Chaucer’s morals would imply at the same time that the medieval author is still of huge significance. Due to the fact, that Chaucer dealt with issues of mankind, which can still be referred to the present time, the preservation of his core messages is utterly essential. First of all, an illustration about Geoffrey Chaucer’s collection of stories will introduce the Bachelor -thesis. Information about the historical Geoffrey Chaucer will be given. This leads to the issue whether it can be spoken of a modern Geoffrey Chaucer within our cultural society. To reconstruct what is meant by different forms of media, a brief impression from medieval forms of media to the used media of the twenty-first century will be given. An example about the homepage of the Canterbury Tales Museum indicates that nowadays the Internet has become one of the most significant forms of media. Used elements of media with regard to the Museum’s homepage demonstrate in how far a broad section of the people can be attracted. The visit to the Museum’s homepage leads to the main part of the work, which is the excursion to the Canterbury Tales Museum. To dive into the medieval world of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, at first a detailed illustration of the represented Canterbury Tales will be given. The focus of the illustration is put on the perception of the used elements of media, starting at the setting of the Tabard Inn, where the Museum’s tour begins. A further important part contains the exploration of the used method with regard to the Museum’s representation. The most significant elements of media, which represent the Canterbury Tales, will be summarized and the crucial question is based on the intended effect on the visitor. A further issue, which concerns the represented settings, contains the question why five certain Canterbury Tales have been chosen. Several hypotheses attempt to answer this question. An interview with the manager of the Canterbury Tales Museum clarifies the importance of Geoffrey Chaucer within the English culture. Moreover, the interview points out the actual intention of the Museum. Consequently, a conclusion can be drawn. Furthermore, the current research with regard to the issue about Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the media should be considered. It is to be mentioned that a diversity of literary information about the medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer can be found, for instance at university libraries. Several introductions with regard to the Canterbury Tales itself have been written.[1] Thus, the current research can be referred to the Internet, one of the most important forms of media within the twenty-first-century. The Internet offers various websites containing Geoffrey Chaucer and his collection of stories. Visitors are invited to join historic English literature and to get to know the world of Geoffrey Chaucer and his Tales. Some instances will be pointed out. A website, which is called ‘Poetry Foundation’, offers the possibility to read the General Prologue of the famous Tales. Striking is the description which appears on the website:” Author of the immortal Canterbury Tales, GEOFFREY CHAUCER (ca. 1340—1400) is the undisputed father of English poetry.”[2] A further interesting website refers to the most significant authors of world literature and their works. Information is given about the content of the famous works, as well as the writers. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the first represented works.[3] The current research refers also to advertisement for people who are interested in the Canterbury Tales, outside the Internet. A report of the online newspaper New York Times, which is titled “Canterbury Tales in Staten Island and Other Budget Fun”, advertises for a story-contest, which is reminiscent of the Canterbury Tales, reading parts of the different stories.[4] As the current research illustrates, Geoffrey Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales are still present in the media. In how far the importance of this author and his Tales is put forward with regard to further forms of media and other cultural fields, will be explored.

2. GEOFFREY CHAUCER AND HIS CANTERBURY TALES

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is a Middle English collection of stories and was written by the end of the fourteenth century.[5] It consists of the famous General Prologue which contains 24 different tales. However, Chaucer did not finish his Canterbury Tales. The Tales are short narratives written in verse or in prose.[6] ”The framing device for the collection of stories is a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury, Kent.”[7] The General Prologue describes 30 pilgrims, who meet at the Tabard Inn in Southwark. The pilgrims decide to travel together to Canterbury.[8]

The pilgrimage, which in medieval practice combined a fundamentally religious purpose with the secular benefit of a spring vacation, made possible extended consideration of the relationship between the pleasures and vices of this world and the spiritual aspirations for the next.[9]

Harry Bailey, the host of the Tabard Inn, proposes that during their journey each pilgrim narrates two tales on their way to Canterbury, and two tales on their way back to London. The best story-teller receives a meal at the Tabard Inn, for which all the other pilgrims would pay.[10] Harry Bailey itself judges the tales and “[…] will choose the best tale by considering both meaning and pleasure, “best sentence,” and “most solaas.”[11] On the next day, the pilgrims start their pilgrimage, “and shortly thereafter, whether by chance, luck or fate, the Knight draws the lot to begin the contest.”[12] Striking for Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is that the characters are composed of “multiplicity of social types.”[13] There is the Knight, telling an ancient story about courtly love, or the Miller, who narrates a satirical fabliau, which is absolutely contrastive to the Knight’s Tale. Another character is the Pardoner, telling a sermon containing a moral about the greed being the root of all evil. It can be seen that Chaucer’s collection of stories represents different types of genres.[14] The narrated tales consist of“[…]religious legend, courtlyromance, racyfabliau,saint’s life,allegorical tale, beast fable, medieval sermon, alchemical account, and, at times, mixtures of these genres.”[15] The assumption has been made that Chaucer was inspired by the work of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. Due to the fact that Boccaccio’s Decameron also deals with several narrators telling stories to each other, several parallels can be drawn to the Canterbury Tales.[16] Also the end of both works appears to be similar: “It ends with an apology by Boccaccio, much likeChaucer's Retraction to the Tales.”[17]

3. Viewing Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer is “the earliest major English poet who is still read today, and he is still read for the sake of his poetry, not merely as a source book of social history.”[1]

3.1. The traditional Geoffrey Chaucer

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 3: Nevil Coghill, “Geoffrey Chaucer” (Great Britain: Curwen Press, 1956)

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in the early years of 1340.[18] He grew up in a “wealthy and influential household.”[19] His family lived in Thames Street, which was known as the district of vintners, as well as a place of commerce.[20] Chaucer’s mother, Agnes de Copton, inherited many estates.[21] His father, John Chaucer, was known to have been “a successful and influential vintner”[22], who was involved in the king’s service of King Edward III. [23] The profound education of the young Geoffrey Chaucer began when he entered the royal service.[24] In his early years “he was beginning to climb upon gradually rising hierarchy which led to the summit of royal administration and good governance.”[25] He became a page of the royal household of Elizabeth de Burgh, who was the Countess of Ulster. Thus, he had the opportunity to participate in the royal life.[26] As a servant of the public services, Chaucer was mentioned in the life records of Elizabeth’s royal household for the first time in 1357.[27] Especially in 1359, after the marriage between Elizabeth de Burgh and Duke Lionel of Antwerp, “Chaucer was now, nominally at least, a page in the service of Prince Lionel of Ulster.” [28] He received “a career, a profession and a duty.”[29] It can only be conjectured that “there would have been a clerk or a priest of the household who acted as pedagogus to the pages and taught them grammar and languages.”[30] Chaucer had also to face negative times. He served for the English army. In 1359 France was invaded by King Edward III and Chaucer travelled together with Duke Lionel of Antwerp. During the siege of Rheims in 1360, Chaucer was captured and King Edward III ransomed him. Unfortunately, after that time further dates of his biography are unknown. It is assumed that Chaucer travelled as a royal envoy to France, Flanders and Spain and he is believed to have gone on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.[31] Worth mentioning is his journey to Picardy in Italy, “as part of a military expedition.”[32] Several theories are based on the assumption that during his time in Italy he met Petrarch or Boccaccio who taught him medieval Italian poetry. It has been claimed that Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron was the source of inspiration for Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales:

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio contains more parallels to the Canterbury Tales than any other work. Like the Tales, it features a number of narrators who tell stories along a journey they have undertaken (to flee from the Black Plague).[33]

However, he also wrote famous works, such as the Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, the Legend of Good Women or Troilus and Criseyde. In 1366 he married Philippa de Roet. His wife was a lady-in-waiting of Philippa of Hainault, who was the queen of Edward III. Philippa de Roet is said to have died in 1387. It is supposed that Chaucer had three or four children.[34] His children were also involved in the royal households: “His son, Thomas Chaucer, had an illustrious career, as chief butler to four kings, envoy to France, and Speaker of the House of Commons.”[35] There is also a reference to his daughter Alice Chaucer, who became the wife of Duke of Suffolk. Probably Chaucer studied law and he was appointed as a member of King Edward’s royal court. As a member of the royal court, Chaucer was confronted with responsible tasks, for instance travelling abroad as a varlet.[36] In 1378 he worked for about twelve years as a Comptroller of Customs for the port of London. It is believed that in this period he moved to Kent as a commissioner of peace for Kent and within that time he might have written several of his famous works. The Canterbury Tales are believed to be written in the early 1380s. Furthermore, in 1386 he became a member of Parliament for Kent and in 1389 he organized the building projects of Edward III. However, his employment as a clerk of the king’s work took only about two years. In 1391, Geoffrey Chaucer was occupied as a deputy forester of the royal forest in Somerset. Presumably, Chaucer stopped writing his collection of the Canterbury Tales during that time. His life records disappeared when King Henry IV ascended the throne. It is assumed that Geoffrey Chaucer died on 25th October 1400. The reason for his death is unknown. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in London and displaced in 1556 to what is today known as the Poet’s corner.[37] His multisided biography proves that Chaucer was “among the most noble and notable of his contemporaries”[38]

3.2. The modern Geoffrey Chaucer

Considering the diversity of information given about the historical Geoffrey Chaucer it can be claimed that there is a huge lack of information with regard to the modern Geoffrey Chaucer. First of all, the term of what is meant by ‘the modern Geoffrey Chaucer’ should be clarified. The description refers to the issue in how far Geoffrey Chaucer, being one of the most significant authors of the English literature, is still part of our present cultural society. To examine this question it is beneficial to take a view at the field trip of the Canterbury Tales Museum. As the excursion to the Canterbury Tales Museum is going to point out, the tour of the Museum is primarily focused on the figural representation of the Canterbury Tales. It becomes obvious that general information about the author Geoffrey Chaucer itself is not illustrated. Only a brief reference can be found on the Museum’s homepage:” […] you can step back over 500 years to join Geoffrey Chaucer (England’s finest poet) and his colourful characters on their magical pilgrimage from London to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.”[39] As it has been pointed out, Chaucer is mentioned as “England’s finest poet.” However, after having visited the Museum it becomes evident that Chaucer as “England’s finest poet” has not been praised very much. At the beginning of the tour, Geoffrey Chaucer is introduced as the narrator of the Canterbury Tales. He will be the guiding voice for the visitor during the entire visit. The function of his voice represents nothing but a simple narrator mediating the Canterbury Tales through the audio guides. Even at the end of the visit, importance is not attached to Geoffrey Chaucer as the outstanding writer.[40]

4. Forms of media

4.1. The medieval world of media and the media of the 21st century

Due to the fact that the main focus of my excursion is based on the representation of media with regard to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, first of all I would like to introduce the issue of media itself. An insight into the used forms of media during the Middle Ages will be given. Afterwards, the media of the twenty-first century is going to be pointed out and I would like to take reference to the Internet as one of the most signifant forms of modern media. The emphasis is put on a website, which refers to the homepage of the Canterbury Tales Museum.

Media are instruments used for a process of communication between sender and receiver.[41]

“People have been exchanging information and knowledge since the dawn of mankind.”[42] Even in medieval times specific forms of media were used for the communicational interaction. The first development of media refers to the period from 800 to 1400, which is from orality to writing. However, the main transition from cultural memory to the tradition of the written word was a lingering process. During the Middle Ages primarily the oral communication was the most important form of media for the medieval society. In the Middle Ages there were different sections of society, which were separated from each other. The borders between these sections emerged due to specific forms of media, each containing own communicational structures. Within these parts you could find media personified through the people itself. For instance, the court jester acted for the royal court or the aristocracy. Or there was the singer, who stood for another form of media. Both represented the role of mediators for courts and castles. Furthermore, the paper as a written medium could also be found at courts and castles. At monasteries or universities medieval narrators and masters were important for the mediation of knowledge. Books and letters were usual written forms of media within these institutions. The narrator appeared also in villages. Ritualized festivities were organized to impart specific information. A further interesting form of media refers to the theatre of the church. Mentionable is the aspect that the church windows or letters served as advertisement for the particular plays. Preachers and priests as another personified form of media appeared in towns and made use of papers to mediate significant information. At medieval market places letters represented further forms of written media.[43] The modern media can be distinguished between print-media, audio-visual media and electronic media. Print-media refers to a carrier medium for printed words or pictures. For instance, books and/or novels, newspaper or broadsheets are part of print media. Audio-visual media are media transmitting sound waves or images. The radio or the television, as well as sound recording media, such as disc records, compact discs, video tapes and digital versatile discs (DVD), can be defined as forms of audio-visual techniques. A further important form of media is the electronic media. With the help of electronic technology a broad audience can not only receive but also transmit information quickly. For example, electronic mails (E-Mail) is a carrier medium for the mediation of texts, pictures or data files. Additional, the Internet, which is also part of the electronic media, has become one of the most significant forms of media , transmitting E-Mails.[44] However, it is primarily used to impart various fields of information:

[...]


[1] Cf. Dillon, Janette, Geoffrey Chaucer (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993).-George, Jodie-Anne, Geoffrey Chaucer: the general prologue to The Canterbury Tales (Duxford: Icon Books, 2000).

[2] “Geoffrey Chaucer”, in Poetry Foundation, from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/geoffrey-chaucer 03March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[3] Cf. “Die Canterbury Erzählungen”, in Klassiker der Weltliteratur: Carl Busse: Geschichte der Weltliteratur, from http://www.klassiker-der-weltliteratur.de/canterbury_tales.htm 03 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[4] Harris, Rachel Lee: “Canterbury Tales in Staten Island and Other Budget Fun”, in The New York Times, 4 November 2011, from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/arts/05miser.html , 20 March 2012.

[5] Cf. “The Canterbury Tales”, in Wikipedia, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canterbury_Tales 5 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[6] Cf. "The Canterbury Tales”, in Encyclopædia Britannica , from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/93091/The-Canterbury-Tales 5 March 2012. All subsequent references will be designated as Encyclopædia Britannica, The Canterbury Tales. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[7] Encyclopædia Britannica, The Canterbury Tales.

[8] Cf. Encyclopædia Britannica, The Canterbury Tales.

[9] Encyclopædia Britannica, The Canterbury Tales.

[10] Cf. Hirsh, C. John, Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales: A Short Introduction (United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers, 2002), p.135.

[11] Ib., p.135.

[12] Hirsh, C. John, Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales: A Short Introduction (United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers, 2002), p.135.

[13] "The Canterbury Tales", in Encyclopædia Britannica , from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/93091/The-Canterbury-Tales 5 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[14] Cf. “The Canterbury Tales”, in Wikipedia, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canterbury_Tales#Relativism_versus_realism 6 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[15] "The Canterbury Tales", in Encyclopædia Britannica , from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/93091/The-Canterbury-Tales 6 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[16] Cf. “The Canterbury Tales”, in Wikipedia, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canterbury_Tales#Sources, 6 March 2012. All subsequent references will be designated as Wikipedia, The Canterbury Tales. Further comments s. Bibliography

[17] Wikipedia, The Canterbury Tales.

[18] Cf. Ackroyd, Peter, Brief lives: Chaucer (London: Chatto & Windus, 2004), p.2

[19] Cf. Ackroyd, Peter, Brief lives: Chaucer (London: Chatto & Windus, 2004), p.2

[20] Cf. Ib., p.3

[21] Cf. Ib., p.2

[22] Ib., p.1f.

[23] Cf. Ib.

[24] Cf. Ib., p.15.

[25] Ib., p.16.

[26] Cf. Ib., p.15.

[27] Cf. “Geoffrey Chaucer”, in Wikipedia, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer#Life 8 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[28] Ackroyd, Peter, Brief lives: Chaucer (London: Chatto & Windus, 2004), p.15.

[29] Ib.

[30] Ib., p16.

[31] Cf. “Geoffrey Chaucer”, in Wikipedia, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer#Life 8 March 2012. All subsequent references from the same source will be designated as Wikipedia, Geoffrey Chaucer. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[32] Wikipedia, Geoffrey Chaucer

[33] “The Canterbury Tales”, in Wikipedia , from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canterbury_Tales 7 March 2012 . Further comments s. Bibliography.

[34] Cf. “Geoffrey Chaucer”, in Wikipedia, from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer 8 March 2012. All subsequent references will be designated as Wikipedia, Geoffrey Chaucer. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[35] Wikipedia, Geoffrey Chaucer

[36] Cf. “Geoffrey Chaucer”, in Wikipedia, from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Chaucer 8 March 2012. All subsequent references will be designated as Wikipedia, Geoffrey Chaucer. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[37] Wikipedia, Geoffrey Chaucer.

[38] Ackroyd, Peter, Brief lives: Chaucer (London: Chatto & Windus, 2004), p.16.

[39] “The Canterbury Tales, Visitor Attraction”, from http://www.canterburytales.org.uk/home.htm . 7 March 2012. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[40] The references are based on the excursion of the Canterbury Tales Museum, in St. Margaret’s Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2TG, 4 November 2011.

[41] Cf. “Medien”, in Medienlexikon Com, from http://www.medienlexikon.com 9 March 2012. The information has been taken from a German website and is rewritten in English. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[42] Subramanian, Ramesh, Peer to Peer Computing: The Evolution of a Disruptive Technology (Idea Group Publishing, 2005) p.239.

[43] Cf. Faulstich, in Medien und Öffentlichkeiten im Mittelalter, from http://www.michael-giesecke.de/geschichte/skriptorien/dokumente/vernetzung/excerpt/exc_medien_und_oeffentlichkeiten.htm , 9 March 2012. The information has been taken from a German website and is rewritten in English. Further comments s. Bibliography.

[44] Cf. “Medien”, in Medienlexikon Com, from http://www.medienlexikon.com 9 March 2012. The information has been taken from a German website and is rewritten in English. Further comments s. Bibliography.

Details

Seiten
48
Jahr
2012
ISBN (eBook)
9783656599951
ISBN (Buch)
9783656599937
Dateigröße
3.2 MB
Sprache
Deutsch
Katalognummer
v267810
Note
Schlagworte
chaucer canterbury tales media

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Titel: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the Media