Geoffrey Chaucer

Early Life and Education

Geoffrey Chaucer, a literary genius, was born in London in the year 1340, and is remembered for his legendary contributions to literature. His father was a prosperous wine merchant, while his mother, Agnes Compton, was a homemaker. He attained formal education at the popular St. Paul’s Cathedral School where he learned Latin and fell in love with the writings of great masters, Ovid and Virgil. He continued to have a passion for writing, as he not only loved their diverse style but also made an effort to emulate it.

Political Career

Geoffrey dedicated a significant amount of time to practicing writing and improving his skills before he delved into the world of literature, which had a major influence on his life. He also worked as a government employee after joining in 1357, serving Countess Elizabeth of Ulster until he passed away. In 1359, he took part in the Hundred Years’ War in France and was held captive for ransom. His connection with the royal family brought wealth, as King Edward-III set a good salary for his service. He journeyed through France during this time. After retiring, the king granted him a pension of twenty marks to honor his remarkable career.

Personal Life and Death

Geoffrey Chaucer married Philippa Roet, daughter of Sir Payne Roet, in 1366. Their union helped him accelerate his political career in London; he became one of King Edward III’s esquires. Also, the couple produced four children named Elizabeth, Thomas, Agnes, and Lewis. Unfortunately, the lady’s death in 1387 brought financial hardships to Chaucer; it was Philippa’s interests that kept him living and he lost those after her death. Afterward, he devoted himself to writing and produced magnificent pieces. After providing a literary treasure to the world, this iconic figure left for his eternal abode at sixty on the 25th of October in 1400 in London. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Some important Facts about Him

  1. He is considered one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages and is regarded as the father of English literature.
  2. He is best known for his work, The Canterbury Tales.
  3. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first writer buried in the Poet’s Corner.

Literary Career

Geoffrey Chaucer’s association with politics and visits to various places provided him materials for his writings. His literary career formally began when the Duke of Lancaster asked him to pen down a memorial poem for his deceased wife. To honor his wish, Chaucer composed a poem, The Book for Duchess that was regarded as a fitting memorial to the highest-ranking women of English royalties. His other long poem, Troilus and Criseyde, a tragedy, was written in the background of the Trojan War. However, his best known and acclaimed work, The Canterbury Tales, appeared in 1476. The book presents the journey of certain characters to the holy shrine of St. Thomas Becket, where each pilgrim is supposed to tell a tale that links it to the prologue and epilogue. Besides producing these literary wonders, Geoffrey also wrote nonfiction.

His Style

Geoffrey Chaucer continues to mesmerize generations with his unique, elegant, and fascinating writing approach. His work displays the influences of French literature, Biblical History, and Old English Literature. He demonstrates his powerful imagination and creative approach through simple yet effective and persuasive language. For example, Parliament of Fouls shows the use of literary elements like satire, irony, and allegory when he presents courtly love. In his narrative poem, Troilus and Criseyde, he has used rime royal, a technique that involves rhyming stanzas consisting of seven lines each. Similarly, in The Legend of Good Woman, he introduces another innovative format: the text comprising iambic pentameter couplets and a series of short narratives. Some of his major thematic strands include Christianity, corruption in the Church, good versus evil, lies and deception, justice and judgment, courtly love, sexual desire, religion, and rivalry. And, for literary devices, he resorts to irony and satire.

Some Important Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

  • Major Works: He was an outstanding literary figure, some of his major writings include Roman de la Rose, The Book of Duchess, The House of Fame, Anelida and Arcite, Parliament of Fouls, Boece, The Legend of Good Woman, The Canterbury Tales and A treatise on the Astrolabe.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Impact on Future Literature

Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the father of English literature, stands out in the world of literature because he was really smart and clever. His special writings give us a peek into how people talked, lived, and wrote in his time. Even today, his works connect with our world. He wrote stories in poems, with his big masterpiece being The Canterbury Tales. This changed how people wrote about religion and old stories. Chaucer’s use of English helped make Middle English popular, replacing French and Latin. He’s among the top writers of his time because of his good choice of words.

Famous Quotes

  1. “Then you compared a woman’s love to Hell,
    To barren land where water will not dwell,
    And you compared it to a quenchless fire,
    The more it burns the more is its desire
    To burn up everything that burnt can be.
    You say that just as worms destroy a tree
    A wife destroys her husband and contrives,
    As husbands know, the ruin of their lives. “ (The Canterbury Tales)
  1. “And high above, depicted in a tower,
    Sat Conquest, robed in majesty and power,
    Under a sword that swung above his head,
    Sharp-edged and hanging by a subtle thread.” (The Canterbury Tales)
  1. “By God, if women had written stories,
    As clerks had within here oratories,
    They would have written of men more wickedness
    Than all the mark of Adam may redress.” (The Wife of Bath’s Prologue & Tale)
  1. “Soun is noght but air ybroken,
    And every speche that is spoken,
    Loud or privee, foul or fair,
    In his substaunce is but air;
    For as flaumbe is but lighted smoke,
    Right so soun is air ybroke.” (House of Fame)