The Delta


The Host's motives and the roles he occupies as self appointed leader of the pilgrimage to Canterbury and as host of the tale-telling competition are up for debate, as noted by several Chaucerian critics. Most agree that the Host remains a powerful force throughout the Canterbury Tales and that he only disappears from the forefront of the Tales because he has been wrapped into its core, as William Keen suggests. Following his rousing speech, which finalizes the General Prologue, the Host surfaces only occasionally and speaks in minute bursts. It is all the more important, then, that we as readers and interpreters keep in mind the function of these bursts as well as the Host's behind-the-scenes duties. The Host does not take a backseat on the journey, but drives the Tales along to further his own agenda, occasionally interrupting the pilgrims to make his presence known and to remind both pilgrims and readers of the power he wields over the group. In effect, the Host's bits of dialogue are not simply disruptive, but are a cohesive agent between the tales.