Geoffery Chaucer: Chaucer’s life and work short notes for BA English Semester II of BBMKU and VBU Universities’ Students. We are trying to solve the question ” Describe the life and works of Geoffrey Chaucer.”
Geoffery Chaucer: Life
Geoffery Chaucer’s birth date is uncertain but historians accepted, he was born in 1340 in London. His father’s name was John Chaucer and his mother was Agnes Copton. Chaucer belonged to a prosperous wine merchant family. As a government servant, he was a legendary person. His first record was found in the household account of Elizabeth de Burgh ( the wife of the Duke of Clarence) in 1357. He was very close to Elizabeth de Burgh before her marriage. When She married Lionel, the Duke of the Clarence (the second surviving son of the king, Edward III), Chaucer’s got an opportunity to enter the court circle, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. He also worked as a courtier, a diplomat, and a civil servant, and worked for the king from 1389 to 1391 as Clerk of the King’s Works.
In 1359, during the early stage of the hundred years’ war, Edward III invaded France. Thus as a part of the English army, Chaucer got a chance to travel to France with the 1st duke of Clarence. In 1360, he was captured during the siege of Rheims. Edward paid £16 in ransom to release Chaucer. It was a big amount on those days. While serving in the military, he visited different countries like France, Italy, and Spain. He got married to Philippa Roet in 1366. Chaucer lived during the reign of three kings; Edward III, Richard II, and Henry IV. He was dead on 25 October 1400. He was the first poet buried in Poets’ Corner in Westminister Abbey. Geoffery Chaucer contributed in both poetry and prose but he was best known for The Canterbury Tales.
Geoffery Chaucer: Works
Chaucer’s Poetry: Chaucer’s poetry is divided into three stages; French, Italian, and Engish.
(i)French Stage: It is the earliest or the French group of Chaucer’s poems which are closely of French origin. Poem like ‘The Romanunt of the Rose‘ is a lengthy allegorical poem written in octosyllabic couplets and based on Le Romaunt de la Rose (La Roman de la Rose) by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. Other poems of this period include The Book of Duchesse, The Compleynt unto Pite, An A.B.C., and The Complaint of Mars.
(ii) Italian Stage: It is the second stage of Chaucer’s poetry which shows an advance upon the first. In this stange, he showed his greatness in metres, originality, and technical ability. Anelida and Arcite and The Parlement of Foules such poems of this stage show his fine opening of the poem and true comic spirit. Troilus and Criseyde is a long poem adapted from Boccaccio but its emphasis on character is original. It is considered Chaucer’s best narrative work. The rhyme royal stanzas are of much dexterity and beauty. The pathos of the story is touched upon with deep feelings. The House of Fame is a poem in octosyllabic couplets. It’s a kind of dream allegory poem. The Legend of Good Women is another poem of this stage.
(iii) English stage: This stage contains the works of the greatest individual accomplishment. The achievement of this period is The Canterbury Tales. It is considered Chaucer’s masterpiece. This poem is a collection of fables. He decided to write more than a hundred stories but only 20 were completed. Each story was told by different characters of different classes and societies. His idea of a prologue is great that defines the different characters of Canterbury Tales, the weather and society of the age, etc. Comic vision and heroic couplet are notable features of this poem.
Chaucer’s Prose: The prose tales may be apposite but are not among Chaucer’s successful efforts. Both The Tale of Melibeus and The Parson’s Tale are lifeless in style and full of tedious moralizings. Compared with the earlier prose works they nevertheless mark an advance. He had a copious and accurate grasp of sentence construction and vocabulary.