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Barron's Booknotes-The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer-Free Book Notes
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FORM AND STRUCTURE

As with style, Chaucer uses the structure or poetic form of a tale to say something about the narrator or to make a point. The raunchy style of Miller's Tale is inherent in the fabliau form, which is by definition a bawdy story. At other times Chaucer contrasts the style of the tale with its form, as in the Wife of Bath's Prologue, which is set in the form of a sermon although her subject matter is hardly sermonlike. The same structural irony occurs in the Pardoner's Tale, where his debauched personality is placed in opposition to his tale's moral structure. Yet in other tales, such as the Nun's Priest's, the overall form of the story isn't as important as its message.


SOURCES

Sometimes Chaucer uses very specific sources for his tales, like the Knight's Tale, and accordingly, notes on sources appear after the discussion of the tale. Others are based more vaguely on general sources like fairy tales (Wife of Bath) or the Bible (the old man in the Pardoner's Tale, perhaps). Still others can't blame their existence on anything but the wonderful genius of Geoffrey Chaucer. As you can tell from this wide a range, the sources for the tales vary greatly, and are sometimes impossible to pin down. But where sources are known, it's interesting to see how Chaucer changed them around.

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Barron's Booknotes-The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer-Free Book Notes
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