Geoffrey Chaucer was an famous English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat of the 13th century. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his book The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin. Even though the Renaissance started with Shakespeare’s dramas in the 16th century, Chaucer is said to be the first English Renaissance writer. He was born in 1343 London as the son of a wine merchant. Thourhgout his life, he served as a page in the Royal Family, a master of customs officer in London’t port, and he was also a clerk. He was influenced by the Italian writers Dante and Boccacio. His death took place in 1400 in London.
The Canterbury Tales, his famous book, gives a picture of the contemporary society. In it, Chaucer writes about people from all of the different social classes of his time. This is why he is classified as a Renaissance writer. The book is based in the city of Canterbury. This city is known for its cathedral in which Thomas Beckett was murdered in 1170. Since that time, pilgrims have been coming to the city to see Beckett’s grave. Chaucer writes about some of these pilgrims and their stories. He tells of how they meet in a pub, and each tells his/her story of heroism, morals, or of something unseemly. Each of the stories is a tale, thus The Canterbury Tales. There is a tale about a knight, a woman from Bath, a friar, a miller, a pardonner, and so on. There are 23 tales in all and the work is an incompletion. From these stories we can learn about life in the 13th century.
The Pardonner’s Tale is quite interesting. It is about three drunken revellers who have gotten their hands on some gold. One of them goes for wine and, wanting the gold all to himself, poisons it. When he returns, the other two kill him. Then they drink the poisoned wine and die themselves. In the end, none of them end up getting the gold.