Tales of Love & Marriage

In this unit, we will be examining the ways in which authors have tackled the subject of marriage in the medieval, renaissance, and regency periods.  Each author has used the subject as a commentary of his/her time, but how does it relate to ours? Have our ideas of marriage changed since the medieval period?  What is the role of a man and a woman in marriage?  What social issues are related to marriage?

Essential Questions

  • How do writers create texts to explore the social and political issues of their time?
  • What roles do satire and irony play in societal critique?
  • How do authors and artists reveal their attitudes toward their subject matter?
  • What parallels can we draw between these societies and ours?


  • The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer (General Prologue, Wife of Bath’s Tale, Miller’s Tale, Reeve’s Tale, Pardoner’s Tale, Franklin’s Tale, Shipman’s Tale, Nun’s Priest Tale)
  • Chevrefoil, Marie de France
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare
  • Selected Poems including “Alisoun” Middle English lyric

Wed 3/13
What are your ideas about love and marriage?  What do you envision for your life?  Where do these ideas come from?

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person

Intro to the unit and medieval period

  • What are your expectations of reading a piece of literature from the medieval period?
  • What does the artwork of the time reflect

Courtly love and chivalry

HW:  Intro to Chaucer–Watch the following video about Chaucer and the tales and take notes on the following:

  • Chaucer’s life and time period
  • Information about The Canterbury Tales.

  • 0-10.19
  • 14.28-17.53

Thurs 3/15

Living Poet Presentations

What do you know about Chaucer?

Fri 3/15

What do you know about Chaucer and the time period?

Reading the General Prologue
Here we meet all of the pilgrims as well as a definite speaker.  Use the handout to keep track of everyone.   As you read the first three stanzas together (volunteers anyone?), take note of the following:

  • What stands out to you?
  • How would you describe the speaker?

HW:  Finish reading the prologue and information about the pilgrims on the document

Mon 3/18

Creating the Pilgrim Portrait

Your group is responsible for creating a visual portrait of your assigned pilgrim(s) so that we understand the characters telling these tales. In order to create a true visual representation of your figure, you will need to use the details that Chaucer provides.

  • Physical appearance including dress
  • Consider how personality traits would be represented visually
  • Any objects that might be important to them or that they would have with them on their pilgrimage

HW: “The Knight’s Tale” Parts I and II (p. 26-53)

  • How is this tale appropriate for the Knight to tell?
  • What does this tale illuminate about the tradition of courtly love?

Tues 3/19

Meeting and reviewing the pilgrims

  • Knight, Squire, Yeoman
  • Prioress, 2nd Nun, and 3 priests
  • Monk
  • Friar
  • Merchant
  • Franklin
  • Shipman
  • Wife of Bath
  • Parson
  • Miller
  • Reeve
  • Wife of Bath
  • Chaucer the Pilgrim
  • The Host

HW:  Study for Pilgrim quiz (multiple choice, matching quotes from Prologue to character) for Thursday

Wed 3/20

Finish meeting and reviewing the pilgrims

Finish reading Parts III&IV “The Knight’s Tale”

HW: study for pilgrim quiz

Thurs 3/21

Pilgrim Quiz

Discussing “The Knight’s Tale”

  • Knight’s Tale Questions handout

Fri 3/22


Mon 3/23

“Miller’s Tale”

“Nun’s Priest Tale”

Understanding Satire in The Canterbury Tales

Reading “The Nun’s Priest Tale”

  • How does the satirize courtly love?
  • What is Chaucer’s purpose?
  • What rhetorical devices and structure does Chaucer use?

NP Criticism and answering NP Tale questions

Fri 3/22


Mon 3/25
Miller’s Tale

Tues 3/26

Intro to Wife of Bath

HW: Finish reading and annotation WoB Prologue and Tale

Wed 3/27
Groups for assigned readings:

  • Merchant
  • Franklin
  • Clerk

Thurs 3/28
Presentations on Tales

Fri 3/29
In class response to prompt

Mon 4/1
Twelfth Night

Tues 4/2
Twelfth Night field trip

  • What were some of the choices that they made?  How did they stage it?

Character chart

Acting Exercises Act 1 Scene 2

HW:  Journal entry on Kate

Wed 4/3

Thurs 4/4
Intro to The Taming of the Shrew.  

What is a shrew?

Summarizing the induction (play within a play)

Beginning a reading of Act 1 Scene 1

HW:  Finish reading Act 1

Fri 4/5
Reading Act 2

What are the plans?

  • Gremio & Hortensio
  • Lucentio & Tranio

What type of lovers are these?

Read the first page of the packet with Petruchio’s speech.  Scan the speech for stressed and unstressed syllables.  You can use dictionary.com to help you (bold=stressed).

  • Understanding character by rhythm
  • Understanding the verbal sparring in Act 2 Scene 1

HW:  Act 3 – consider how you would stage Kate and Petruchio

Mon 4/8
Watching Act 3 & the beginning of the taming of Kate

  • The start of the taming process
  • Key quotes for Kate and Petruchio (not only what they say but also what others say about them)

HW:  Journal response

Tues 4/9
Reading 4.1, 4.3, and 4.5 in full and the summaries for 4.2 and 4.4

HW:  Finish reading for Thursday’s class & read overview of Twelfth Night

Wed 4/10
Select scenes of the taming of Kate

  • Moving tableaux
  • What is her state here?

HW:  Journal Response

Thurs 4/11
Kate’s final speech assignment

Reading Act 5

Fri 4/12
In class passage response on Kate’s final speech

HW: Enjoy the break!

Mon 4/22

Tues 4/23
HW: Read Chapters 1-8 of P&P

Jane Austen and P&P overview

Finish reading through chapter 12

Wed 4/24
Watching chapters 13-20

HW: Reading chapters 21-26

Thurs 4/25