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The Canterbury Tales, written in Middle English during 1387-1400, is a frame tale by Geoffrey Chaucer. For the beginners, frame tale is a story within which one or more tales are related. In the framing device adopted by Chaucer, the 30 pilgrims who undertake the journey gather at the Tabard Inn in Southwark, across the Thames from London. They agree to engage in a storytelling contest as they travel. Harry Bailly, host of the Tabard, serves as master of ceremonies for the contest. In the General Prologue, most of the pilgrims are introduced by vivid brief sketches. There are short dramatic scenes between the 24 tales which present lively exchanges, involving the host and one or more of the pilgrims.
In The Canterbury Tale, Chaucer brings together people from many walks of life such as knight, prioress, monk; merchant, man of law, franklin, scholarly clerk; miller, reeve, pardoner; wife of Bath and many others. The stories offer complex depictions of the pilgrims, while, at the same time, the tales present remarkable examples of short narratives in verse.