Essay On The Use Of Frame Narrative In The Canterbury Tales

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For example, in the case of my network analysis of the, I had to decide what constituted a network “edge” – the connection between pilgrims – and chose speech as the defining principle.

That is, one character addressing another forms a “directed edge,” indicated by a line tipped with an arrow.

Further, such visualization does not really show us who speaks the most (I have attempted to give a sense of word volume by manipulating the size of the nodes, with larger ones indicating more lines), and it completely elides what is said.

Nevertheless, for the modest aims of network visualization’s function in this study, and always in concert with more traditional close reading, it is a useful tool.

The second tool that I introduce to examine the Host’s twin anxieties, and the relationships on which they depend, is visualization software that traces social networks among Canterbury pilgrims.

I used a version of the free network analysis software Gephi, which provides graphs of social networks, to help illustrate the relationships woven through the framing narrative in an abstract format (I used Gephi version .8 beta for this project; most of the visualizations produced can be found in the appendix to this chapter).Breaking the rules set forth by the Host can result in being silenced, even excluded from the community of pilgrims.[2] In other words, while the pilgrims seem to enjoy a kind of equality as they intermingle on the road and share tales, rules of decorum, underwritten by power and position, constantly haunt the fellowship—threatening interruption, silencing, and ultimately banishment for those who break the rules.Focusing on Harry Bailly (the Host), I argue there are two kinds of anxiety that Chaucer explores through this character.I call these two kinds of anxiety “temporal” and “narrative”; the Host has a special concern with time (urging pilgrims to quickly get to their respective points) and type of tale (directing the kind of tales pilgrims tell).Tracing these anxieties is the first critical tool that I introduce in this chapter.Yet sometimes these exchanges are ambiguous and open to interpretation.Whether we care to look at the relatively brief , there is some interpretation necessary to discern who addresses whom.As mentioned above, there are many other thematic issues in the that point towards tensions around language, gender, and so on, but temporal and narrative anxiety seem particularly tied to the Host and located in the framing narrative.In order to examine these anxieties as clearly as possible, it is necessary to consider the social interactions of all the pilgrims as they occur in the framing narrative – their clashing interests, backgrounds, and personalities – as managed by the Host.My purpose in highlighting social interactions throughout this chapter is to show the development of Harry Bailly’s temporal and narrative anxiety in sharp relief as he talks and clashes with the pilgrims.Even keeping this focus in mind, however, it is easy to lose sight of the Host’s central importance in connecting and in some sense defining the social networks throughout the; thus, a further tool is needed, one more practical than critical.


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