Comment on the host’ in “The prologue to The Canterbury Tales

Harry Bailly, Bailly also spelled as Bailey, is the Host of the Tabard Inn of Chaucer’s prologue To The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) represents him not from a religious viewpoint but from a leading perspective.  He is a fictional character, the genial and outspoken host of the Tabard Inn who accompanies the group of pilgrims to Canterbury in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales .

More Notes: Suggestions

He is a cheerful and friendly person. The Host focuses on the pilgrims and keeps the storytelling contest from devolving into chaos. Although Chaucer narrates the events of the frame story, the Host takes charge of the contest and creates structure. He is a dominating type of person and his speech is very bold.  

In the prologue, the Host’s appearance is described to us in detail. He is said to be a very handsome, eye-catching man, despite being slightly overweight. The Host is also said to have brilliant eyes, which caught Chaucer’s attention. The host proposes that each pilgrim will tell two tales on the way to Canterbury, and two on the way back to pass the time as the pilgrims’ journey to Canterbury. Whoever tells the best tale as judged by the Host, wins a free dinner when they arrive back at his tavern. 

On the morning of the pilgrims’ departure, the Host wakes all the pilgrims up and gets them on the road. The Host has the pilgrims draw lots to decide who will go first, thus beginning the tale-telling game. The Host joins the pilgrimage not as a figure seeking religious guidance but as a guide and judge of the game. The Host’s presence demonstrates that the main purpose of this pilgrimage lies not so much in the devout religious act but in the fun that these tourists will have along the way. 

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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