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The Prologue from

 The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer

Authors want their characters to seem like real people with distinctive natures and features. To do so, authors develop a character's qualities through a method called characterization. The two primary types of characterization are direct and indirect characterization. Using these types of characterization enable authors to create fictional characters who are believable and act in recognizable ways.

In direct characterization, authors directly state a character's traits, such as Chaucer saying The Knight "was of sovereign value in all eyes/and though so much distinguished, he was wise" (lines 69-70).

In indirect characterization, authors describe a character through his or her behavior, thoughts, and speech. Chaucer uses indirect characterization when he describes the Knight as "ever honored for his nobles graces" (line 50). 


Directions: Answer these questions about characterization in "The Prologue" from The Canterbury Tales. Use textual evidence from the poem to support your responses.

1. In lines 81-90, identify one example of direct characterization.

Lines 81-90: "He had his son with him, a fine young Squire, A lover and cadet, a lad of fire With locks as curly as if they had been pressed. He was some twenty years of age, I guessed. In stature he was of a moderate length. He'd seen some service with the cavalry In Flanders and Artois and Picardy And had done valiantly in little space Of time, in hope to woin his lady's grace."



2. In lines 81-90, identify one example of indirect characterization.

Lines 81-90: "He had his son with him, a fine young Squire, A lover and cadet, a lad of fire With locks as curly as if they had been pressed. He was some twenty years of age, I guessed. In stature he was of a moderate length. He'd seen some service with the cavalry In Flanders and Artois and Picardy And had done valiantly in little space Of time, in hope to woin his lady's grace."



3. What details in lines 105-121 directly characterize the Yeoman?

Lines 105-121: "This Yeoman wore a coat and hood of green, And peacock-feathered arrows, bright and keen And neatly sheathed, hung at his belt the while —For he could dress his gear in yeoman style, His arrows never drooped their feathers low——And in his hand he bare a mighty bow. His head was like a nut, his face was brown. He knew the whole of woodcraft up and down. A saucy brace was on his arm to ward It from the bow-string, and a shield and sword Hung at one side, and at the other slipped A jaunty dirk, spear-sharp and well-equipped. A medal of St. Christopher he wore Of shining silver on his breast, and bore A hunting-horn, well slung and burnished clean, That dangled from a baldric" of bright green. He was a proper forester I guess."



4. What details in lines 105-121 indirectly characterize the Yeoman?

Lines 105-121: "This Yeoman wore a coat and hood of green, And peacock-feathered arrows, bright and keen And neatly sheathed, hung at his belt the while —For he could dress his gear in yeoman style, His arrows never drooped their feathers low——And in his hand he bare a mighty bow. His head was like a nut, his face was brown. He knew the whole of woodcraft up and down. A saucy brace was on his arm to ward It from the bow-string, and a shield and sword Hung at one side, and at the other slipped A jaunty dirk, spear-sharp and well-equipped. A medal of St. Christopher he wore Of shining silver on his breast, and bore A hunting-horn, well slung and burnished clean, That dangled from a baldric" of bright green. He was a proper forester I guess."


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