The Tales of Canterbury: The Skipper

Authored by Geoffrey Chaucer, the Canterbury poems revolve around occupations and religions considering most characters are depicted as pilgrimages. This paper specifically addresses Chaucer’s poem of ‘The Skipper’, which appears between lines 390-410 in the book. From what we read in Geoffrey’s work, The Skipper is primarily described in terms of his clothes and possessions, which include his knee-length coat, the horse and the dagger hanging around his neck (Lawrence 56-58). Chaucer’s tendency to describe various professions is seen throughout his work. This paper will analyze two ideas we deduce as regards The Shipman’s profession from the poem.

Have any questions about the topic? Our Experts can answer any question you have. They are avaliable to you 24/7.
Ask now

From the poem, courage seems to be one of the most dominant attributes in sailors. At the beginning of the poem, we see that a dagger hangs from The Shipman’s neck (Lawrence 58-59). This brings the idea of a fearless man who would do anything to protect himself. Later on in the poem, the author writes that he got caught into a fight and had the higher hand. He even ended up drowning his perpetrators, which is definitely not possible with a man of little courage. People in his line of work ought to have courage above the average levels, for them to sail efficiently and possibly fight back when attacked by pirates (Davis, 106-107). A second attribute picked up from The Skipper is that of constant traveling. The Shipman is depicted as a man of constant travel, with most of these attributed to his line of duty. It is only normal for a man in his occupation to have visited various destinations locally and around their areas of residence. The Skipper is said to have seen all harbors and rivers in England, as well as several others in other nations.

To sum up, it is clear from the poem that The Skipper is seldom scared, and also that he thrives in the idea of picking and winning his fights. It is also vivid that he has traveled to more places than any other character in the Canterbury Tales, a fact attributed to his nature of work.


Works cited

Davis, Craig R. “Flatman, Joe: Ships and Shipping in Medieval Manuscripts, 2009.” Kritikon Litterarum 38.1-2 (2011): 105-108.

Lawrence, William W. “Chaucer’s Shipman’s Tale.” Speculum33.1 (1958): 56-68.