This printable supports Common Core ELA standards ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1, ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3, ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4 and ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6

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Analyzing Poetry - Canterbury Tales (Grades 11-12)

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Analyzing Poetry - Canterbury Tales

Experience, though no authority
Were in this world, would be enough for me
To speak of woe that married life affords;
For since I was twelve years of age, my lords,
Thanks be to God eternally alive, 5
Of husbands at the church door I've had five
(If I have wed that often legally),
And all were worthy men in their degree.
But I was told not very long ago
That as but once did Jesus ever go 10
To a wedding (in Cana, Galilee),
By that example he was teaching me
That only once in life should I be wed.
And listen what a sharp word, too, was said
Beside a well by Jesus, God and man, 15
In a reproof of the Samaritan:
'Now you have had five husbands,' Jesus said,
'But he who has you now, I say instead,
Is not your husband.' That he said, no doubt,
But what he meant I haven't figured out; 20
For I must ask, why is it the fifth man
Wasn't husband to the Samaritan?
How many men was she allowed to wed?
In all my years I've never heard it said
Exactly how this number is defined; 25
Men may surmise and gloss how it's divined,
But I expressly know it's not a lie
God bade us to increase and multiply--
That noble text I well appreciate.
I also know the Lord said that my mate 30
Should leave for me his father and his mother,
But mentioned not one number or another,
Not bigamy nor yet octogamy.
Why should men speak, then, disapprovingly?
In her prologue, the Wife of Bath says that...
  1. the Bible says she must be married, so she gets married; she is obedient to the Word of God
  2. the Bible says nothing about remarrying once your spouse dies; if anything she says the Bible commands her to get married again after the death of her spouse; therefore, she continues to get married over and over again
  3. the Bible says she must marry younger men
  4. the Bible says she is required to marry men who are rich
In her life story, the Wife of Bath claims to have been married                                                          
  1. five times, the first time when she was only 12 years old
  2. to the same man for the last 30 years
  3. secretly to a priest
  4. to both commoners and knights
"But mentioned not one number or another,
Not bigamy nor yet octogamy."

Gamy comes from the Greek root that means marriage. Based on that knowledge, what do the words bigamy and octogamy mean?

The Wife of Bath references a passage from the Bible (John 4:16-18) where Jesus talks to a Samaritan woman at the well. The actual passage reads: 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

In the passage, what does Jesus mean when he says the man she now has is not her husband?
  1. It is impossible to have six husbands.
  2. She is not married to the man she is currently with.
  3. Only the first husband counts.
  4. The woman is a widower.
How does the Wife of Bath misconstrue the story of Jesus with the Samaritan woman to fit her own scenario?

There with us was a KNIGHT, a worthy man
Who, from the very first time he began
To ride about, loved honor, chivalry, 45
The spirit of giving, truth and courtesy.
He was a valiant warrior for his lord;
No man had ridden farther with the sword
Through Christendom and lands of heathen creeds,
And always he was praised for worthy deeds. 50
He helped win Alexandria in the East,
And often sat at table's head to feast
With knights of all the nations when in Prussia.
In Lithuania as well as Russia
No other noble Christian fought so well. 55
When Algaciras in Granada fell,
When Ayas and Attalia were won,
This Knight was there. Hard riding he had done
At Benmarin. Along the Great Sea coast
He'd made his strikes with many a noble host. 60
His mortal battles numbered then fifteen,
And for our faith he'd fought at Tramissene
Three tournaments and always killed his foe.
This worthy Knight was ally, briefly so,
Of the lord of Palathia (in work 65
Performed against a fellow heathen Turk).
He found the highest favor in all eyes,
A valiant warrior who was also wise
And in deportment meek as any maid.
He never spoke unkindly, never played 70
The villain's part, but always did the right.
He truly was a perfect, gentle knight.
But now to tell of his array, he had
Good horses but he wasn't richly clad;
His fustian tunic was a rusty sight 75
Where he had worn his hauberk, for the Knight
Was just back from an expedition when
His pilgrimage he hastened to begin.
Which word best describes the Knight?
  1. Christian
  2. Villainous
  3. Honorable
  4. Admired
In line 69, the speaker says "And in deportment meek as any maid."
The word DEPORTMENT as used in the line most likely means...
  1. The act of removing someone from a country
  2. To expel
  3. A person's manners
  4. Conducting oneself in a certain manner
How does the author support the assertions about the Knight's character?

There with him was his son, a youthful SQUIRE,
A lover and knight bachelor to admire. 80
His locks were curled as if set by a press.
His age was twenty years or so, I guess.
In stature he was of an average height
And blest with great agility and might.
He'd ridden for a time with cavalry 85
In Flanders and Artois and Picardy,
Performing well in such a little space
In hopes of standing in his lady's grace.

How does the squire compare to his father?

The Knight's son is a squire. The word squire in the context of this passage most likely means...
  1. A man of high social standing
  2. A woman's escort
  3. A knight's apprentice
  4. A person involved in a romantic relationship

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