Canterbury Tales Characters

All characters represent the middle class.

These characters represent the soldiers and officers of the law.

KNIGHT: fought in many foreign wars but was still mild and respectful in manners to all--the image of chivalry

SQUIRE: the knight's son who is also a part of knightly activities but is not as serious as his father; tends to wear "fashionable" clothes

YEOMAN: traveling forester with numerous weapons, knew all the ways of the woods

MANCIPLE: works for lawyers and tries to steal all he can from them and others with his sharp wit and precise ways

SERGEANT OF LAW: (or lawyer) who makes a great show of his learning with his "wise sayings" and knowledge of the justice system

SHIPMAN: skilled sailing captain and also a smuggler with a special taste for wine and making prisoners "walk the plank"

These characters represent the church.

PRIORESS (head nun): religious figure who seems too delicate and cultivated for this trip; she's very concerned about her appearance

MONK: a large, aggressive man who would rather be hunting or eating than reading books or performing church services

FRIAR HERBERT: religious figure with good humor who flirts with the opposite sex and desires greater wealth and pleasure in his life

SECOND NUN: accompanies the prioress, and brings three priests with her as attendants

PARDONER: bulb-eyed, goat-voiced, relic-carrying traveler from Rome who's friendly with the Summoner

OXFORD CLERIC: religious figure whose life was spent studying his books he's thin, unemployed, and poor

PARSON: religious figure who would help anyone at any time, regardless of social class, and teaches by example

SUMMONER: a disgusting man who drinks a lot and rides with the Pardoner; his job is to deliver messages from head church officials

These characters represent the merchants, craftsmen, and skilled specialists.

DOCTER: an expert in his profession as a master of knowledge of the humors, but more interested in gold than a patient's health

MILLER: large, bold bagpipe-playing, brash thief of farmers with a thumb of gold" that he uses to steal grain from poor farmers

REEVE: a sharp-dealing manager-type who got rich skimming off of others' business

MERCHANT: a tight-lipped man of business with motley dress; he's an expert at currency exchange and money lending

FRANKLIN: a rich landlord who always keeps the best provisions for his table; had been a member of parliament

WOMAN OF BATH: named Alice, a slightly deaf cloth maker with a great deal of experience with the opposite sex due to numerous husbands

COOK: named Roger , a "rollicking" fellow with a great sense of taste but unfortunately had a painful ulcer on his knee

PLOWMAN: the honest and hard-working brother of the Parson, who lives a good life according to the rules of the church


TAPESTRY MAKER: all are members of guilds, each is of important rank within his profession and is respected

(CHAUCER is the tale's narrator and the HOST who is owner of the Talbard Inn complete the group of travelers --the second nun's priest named John is the teller of one of the stories)


A) Content is mainly narrative with some ambiguity with the facts and details. Simply, ballads are songs that tell stories.

B) Ballad meter tends to be 8-8 or 8-6 with some variations and a strong musical quality.

C) Ballad rhyme schemes are based on the quatrain, again with variations. Basic forms are

(- A - A) (A A B B) (A B A B)

D) Ballad authorship is unknown for older ballads which were mainly oral literature as opposed to the known authors of modern ballads who publish poetry or record songs.