17+ Quotes from Canterbury Tales (Explanations)

“The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer is a collection of stories written in Middle English at the end of the 14th century.

Chaucer’s work, through its vivid characters and engaging stories, provides a rich commentary on human nature and the social mores of his time.

Here are a few famous quotes from the work:

Quotes from Canterbury Tales

  1. The General Prologue:
    • “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”
    • This line is often cited for its beautiful depiction of the arrival of spring.
  2. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue:
    • “For, lordynges, sith I twelve yeer was of age, Thanked be God that is on live, Housbondes at chirche dore I have had fyve.”
    • This quote is famous for its candid and humorous representation of the Wife of Bath’s multiple marriages.
  3. The Pardoner’s Tale:
    • “Radix malorum est cupiditas.”
    • This Latin phrase, meaning “Greed is the root of all evil,” is one of the most recognized lines from the tales.
  4. The Knight’s Tale:
    • “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.”
    • This quote reflects on the brevity of life compared to the time it takes to master a skill or craft.
  1. The Knight’s Tale:
    • “What is this world? What asketh men to have? Now with his love, now in his colde grave Allone, withouten any compaignye.
    • This passage reflects on the transitory nature of life and the futility of human desires.
  2. The Miller’s Tale:
    • “An housbonde shal not been inquisitif Of Goddes pryvetee, nor of his wyf.”
    • This humorous line underscores the theme of privacy and trust in marital relationships.
  3. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale:
    • “Mordre wol out, that se we day by day.”
    • This quote, meaning “murder will out,” speaks to the theme of truth and justice inevitably coming to light.
  4. The Merchant’s Tale:
    • “For love is blind alday, and may nat see.”
    • This quote is a commentary on the nature of love and its ability to impair judgment.
  5. The Franklin’s Tale:
    • “Trouthe is the hyeste thing that man may kepe.”
    • This quote emphasizes the value of truth and integrity.
  6. The Pardoner’s Tale:
    • “For covetise is roote of alle harm.”
    • Similar to the earlier mentioned Latin phrase, this quote highlights the destructive nature of greed.
  7. The Clerk’s Tale:
    • “Patience is a high virtue.”
    • This quote reflects the theme of enduring hardship with grace and resilience, which is central to the story of Griselda in the Clerk’s Tale.
  8. The Summoner’s Tale:
    • “A lie is not worth a straw but yet it maketh your market go.”
    • This quote humorously comments on the power of lies and deception in social interactions and commerce.
  9. The Franklin’s Tale:
    • “Suffrance maketh no losse.”
    • This line, emphasizing the virtue of patience or endurance, is part of the Franklin’s philosophy on how to lead a good life.
  10. The Wife of Bath’s Tale:
    • “That gentil text can I wel understonde.”
    • The Wife of Bath uses this line to assert her understanding of what true gentility and nobility are, a recurring theme in her prologue and tale.
  11. The Reeve’s Prologue:
    • “It is no sinne for to be a lewed man.”
    • This quote, coming from the Reeve, underscores the theme of common sense and practical knowledge being as valuable as book learning.
  12. The Shipman’s Tale:
    • “Of harmes two the lesse is for to chese.”
    • A pragmatic approach to choosing the lesser of two evils, a common theme in many of the tales.
  13. The Merchant’s Prologue:
    • “For sely is that deeth, soth for to seyne, That, ofte ycleped, cometh and endeth peyne.”
    • A reflection on the concept of death as a release from suffering.
  14. The Monk’s Tale:
    • “Tragedy is to sayn a certeyn storie, As olde bokes maken us memorie, Of him that stood in greet prosperitee, And is yfallen out of heigh degree Into miserie, and endeth wrecchedly.”
    • The Monk’s definition of tragedy, highlighting the fall from grace and the unpredictability of fortune.


These quotes capture the essence of Chaucer’s work, which blends humor, irony, and morality.

The Canterbury Tales is significant not only for its literary value but also for its depiction of medieval society.


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