Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2008

Thesis Advisor(s)

Robert Hasenfratz

Honors Major



Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles


Scholars of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales have focused much of their research on the interpretation of individual tales in the collection. The meaning behind these tales is clearly important to the work as a whole, as the Tales discuss grand themes that run throughout human life. The choice of themes and arguments in each pilgrim’s tale can also reflect back on the pilgrim’s own motivations and ideas. However, in searching for some greater meaning for Chaucer’s collection, it is important not to leave out the framework within which the tales exist. The links that join the tales to one another, arguably the portions of the piece that are the most original to Chaucer, do not always receive the same kind of attention that is focused on the most popular tales. In a work that is so complex, with its layered narration and interactions between tale and teller, the tales cannot possibly stand on their own, containing all of the meaning behind the work. The links have the potential to be particularly revealing in terms of how the audience should read the entire story of Chaucer’s Canterbury pilgrimage, because they ground the tales in specific circumstances.