The Host, named Harry Bailey, is not included among the twenty-nine pilgrims who gathered at the Tabard Inn. He is introduced at the end of the "General Prologue". The character of the Host is not fully developed. He appears to be a friendly, agreeable and sensible man. His genial warmth is his most outstanding characteristic. Chaucer comments that the Host is the fairest burgess in the whole of Cheapside and is fit to serve as a marshal in a lord’s house. He is frank and forthright in his speech. The Host proposes the story telling competition for the long journey to Canterbury and says that each pilgrim is to tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. The others will reward the pilgrim who tells the best tale by a supper at the Tabard Inn. The Host then proposes to join the group of pilgrims himself. The pilgrims immediately accept him as the guide, judge, manager and reporter. Thus thirty people set off towards the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury the next evening. The Host frequently provides the link between the various stories and decides the order in which the pilgrims narrate their tales. After each tale the Host provides his opinions and comments which reveal his intelligence. The Host for instance stops Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Topas in the middle because he senses that it is mindless rhyming. Critics believe that the Host was modeled on a certain Harry Bailly who actually lived in Southwark in Chaucer’s time.


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