The Host (Harry Bailey) The owner of the Tabard Inn, who volunteers to travel with the pilgrims. He promises to keep everyone happy, be their guide and arbiter in disputes, and judge the tales.
The Knight Socially the most prominent person on the pilgrimage, epitomizing chivalry, truth, and honor. He stands apart from the other pilgrims because of his dignity and status.
The Miller A drunken, brash, and vulgar man who rudely interrupts the Host, demands that his tale be next, and warns everyone that his tale about a carpenter will be vulgar because it is true.
The Reeve A very old and irritable man who was once a carpenter. He resents the Miller's tale about a stupid old carpenter.
The Man of Law (or Sergeant of Law) A lawyer and one of the high justices of the court. He is cautious, suspicious, and wise, and one of the more cultivated men among the pilgrims.
Roger, the Cook Known for his cooking and characterized by a chancre sore that runs with pus. His story is incomplete.
The Wife of Bath (Alisoun) Characterized as gat-toothed, somewhat deaf, and wearing bright scarlet red stockings. She has had five husbands (the last half her age), enjoys her freedom, and is openly sensual.
Hubert, the Friar A sensual, licentious man who seduces young girls and then arranges their marriages. He loves money and knows the taverns better than the poor houses.
The Summoner An officer of the church who calls people for a church trial. He is as ugly as his profession; he frightens children with his red complexion, pimples and boils, and skin infected with scales.
The Clerk A sincere, devout student at Oxford University who loves learning and is respected by all the pilgrims. He is very poor because he spends all his money on books.
The Merchant A shrewd and intelligent man who knows how to strike a good bargain and is a member of the rich rising middle class.
The Squire A vain, lusty young man and a candidate for knighthood. He can sing, write poetry, and ride a horse very well, and considers himself a lady's man.
The Franklin A large and wealthy landowner who enjoys fine living and good companionship.
The Shipman A huge, uncouth man who can steer a ship but flounders on his horse.
The Prioress (Madame Eglantine) A very genteel lady who is coy and delicate. She has precise manners, eats as an aristocrat would, and wears a gold brooch with "Love conquers all" inscribed in Latin.
The Physician A doctor who can speak knowingly of medicines, drugs, and humours, and who knows astrology as well. He is fond of gold and makes a lot of money during the plague season.
The Pardoner The most complex of all the pilgrims. He is an intellect and uses advanced psychological means to gain his objective. Although he is not a good person, he can preach a good sermon.
The Monk A man who tends the property of the monastery. He is fat and happy, loves good food and wine, and finds the taverns more to his liking than the cold, severe monastery.
The Nun's Priest The priest of the church who accompanies the nuns so that they may offer up their confessions.
The Second Nun A very devout nun who, because she believes that idleness leads to sin, begins her story immediately.
The Canon and the Canon's Yeoman Although not one of the pilgrims, the Canon appears with his servant (the Yeoman) but leaves when his Yeoman begins a tale.
The Manciple The steward for a law school. Although not as intelligent as the law students, he is clever and shrewd enough to be able to put away some money for himself.
The Parson A very poor but very holy and virtuous religious man who tells a highly moral tale. He gives his scant money to his poor parishioners and tries to live the perfect life and set an ideal for others.
Major Characters in the Tales
Duke Theseus (The Knight's Tale) His name is that of the famous ruler of ancient Athens who performed many outstanding feats in his life and was reputed to be a great and noble ruler.
Queen Hippolyta (The Knight's Tale) The wife of Theseus. She was a powerful queen of the Amazons before Theseus conquered the tribe and made her his queen.
Emilie (The Knight's Tale) Theseus' beautiful sister-in-law who inadvertently attracts the attention of two imprisoned knights, Arcite and Palamon, and thus is the instrument motivating the central plot.
Palamon (The Knight's Tale) A Theban knight who is wounded fighting against Theseus and imprisoned in perpetuity. Years later, he is the first to fall in love with the beautiful Emilie.
Arcite (The Knight's Tale) Another noble Theban knight and close friend to Palamon. When Arcite sees the beauteous Emilie, he pledges his undying love for her.
Old John, the Carpenter (The Miller's Tale) The rich and old carpenter who foolishly marries a lively young girl.
Alison (The Miller's Tale) The sensual young wife of the old carpenter. She conspires to have an affair with the young scholar and to play an obscene trick upon another suitor.
Nicholas (The Miller's Tale) The passionate young boarder who uses his knowledge of astrology to convince the carpenter that another flood is about to begin so that he can seduce the carpenter's young wife.
Absalon (The Miller's Tale) A young clerk who falls in love with Alison and interferes with Nicholas and Alison's trysts. He is delicate, dainty, and overly sensitive to foul smells. He becomes the butt of an obscene joke.
Oswold (The Reeve's Tale) A crooked miller who steals from his clients. He has a wife of whom he is jealous, a "ripe" young daughter, and also a new baby.
Molly (The Reeve's Tale) The virgin daughter of the miller who is seduced by Alan.
John and Alan (The Reeve's Tale) University students determined not to be cheated by the miller. When the miller does cheat them, they get their revenge through seducing the miller's wife and daughter.
Perkin Reveler (The Cook's Tale) A young apprentice cook most interested in dancing, drinking, singing, gambling, and lovemaking.
Constance (The Man of Law's Tale) A young woman constantly thrown into peril who never loses her faith in Christianity.
Sultan of Syria (The Man of Law's Tale) The young ruler who converts to Christianity so that Constance will wed him.
King Alla (The Man of Law's Tale) The ruler of Northumberland who falls in love with and marries Constance.
Donegild (The Man of Law's Tale) King Alla's wicked mother who forges a letter from her son instructing that his child be killed.
Jankyn (The Wife of Bath's Prologue) The Wife's fifth husband, who caused her trouble and had to be tamed into submission.
Old Thomas (The Summoner's Tale) An old, sick man who has been tricked often by the friar into giving large gifts to him. With his last gift, he gets even with the f riar.
King Walter (The Clerk's Tale) The king who seeks to marry a woman who will never complain about his demands.
Griselda (The Clerk's Tale) Walter's wife; a young woman who is the essence of loveliness, patience, goodness, and fidelity.
January (The Merchant's Tale) An old knight who decides to abandon his wild ways and marry a beautiful young maiden.
May (The Merchant's Tale) The beautiful 18-year-old bride whose old husband (January) cannot satisfy her sexually.
Damian (The Merchant's Tale) A handsome young man who is smitten with love for May.
Canace (The Squire's Tale) The king's daughter, the most beautiful and gracious lady ever to be found on the earth.
Arveragus (The Franklin's Tale) A noble and courageous knight who desires a wife who will enter a marriage pact in which both parties respect each other and show forbearance.
Dorigen (The Franklin's Tale) Arveragus' wife; in her husband's absence, she is unhappy, forlorn, and grief stricken.
Aurelius (The Franklin's Tale) A wealthy neighbor who is secretly and madly in love with Dorigen.
Virginius (The Physician's Tale) A rich and honorable knight with a beautiful daughter.
Virginia (The Physician's Tale) Virginius' daughter whose beauty and modesty attract the evil attentions of Appius.
Appius (The Physician's Tale) An unjust judge who is captivated by Virginia's beauty and is determined to have her.
Claudius (The Physician's Tale) The wicked blackguard who assists Appius in his wicked plan to capture and seduce Virginia.
The Three Rioters (The Pardoner's Tale) Drunken revelers who decide to find Death and slay him.
Sir Topas (Chaucer's Tale of Sir Topaz) A young knight who is handsome, a great hunter, a great wrestler, and the envy of every maiden.
Melibee (Chaucer's Tale of Melibee) A man who forgives three burglars who injure his daughter.
Dame Prudence (Chaucer's Tale of Melibee) Melibee's wife.
Chaunticleer (The Nun's Priest's Tale) The magnificent rooster that rules over his bevy of hens. He is beautiful and exceptionally proud of his singing voice; he is also extremely vain and gullible.
Dame Pertelote (The Nun's Priest's Tale) Chaunticleer's wife to whom he is devoted. Although she is something of a nag, she is also devoted to Chaunticleer.
Don (Sir) Russel (The Nun's Priests Tale) The traditional name for a fox. He is the sly typical fox who, by flattery, is able to trick Chaunticleer.
Cecilia (The Second Nun's Tale) A young girl who loves chastity and wants to remain a virgin forever.
Valerian (The Second Nun's Tale) The young man to whom Cecilia is given in marriage. Cecilia convinces him to be baptized. He sees an angel with his wife and wants his brother to become a Christian also.
Tiburce (The Second Nun's Tale) Valerian's brother who is reluctant to be baptized until Celclia converts him.
Phoebus (The Manciple's Tale) A great warrior, skilled musician, and a handsome and kind man who is very jealous of his beautiful wife. When a talking crow informs him of his wife's infidelity, he kills her and later kills the crow.