Geoffrey Chaucer has been regarded as the predecessor or the pioneer of English novel and drama, because all the novels or dramas that we find in English literature have brought out their ideas from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales”. All the techniques used in novel and drama today have their foundation drawn from Geoffrey Chaucer’s work. He introduced many aspects and elements of novel and drama in his work which were entirely missing in literature and had not been borrowed before. He wrote at the time when English novel and drama had not been born. By his work he gave other writers an idea of how to write a novel or a drama. He has been regarded as the first basic root provider of English literature and called as the father of English novel and drama.
Geoffrey Chaucer has been given the title of “the predecessor of English novel and drama” because he introduced many novel and dramatic elements in his work, like narration, realism, simple language, characterization, illustration qualities, humour, versification, plot development, etc. All these aspects played a role in the beginning of English novel and drama.
Narration and description: His prologue is different from poetry and is in narrative form. It has descriptive, storytelling and dramatic techniques which are the aspects of novel and drama. Chaucer has used these techniques just like modern novelists and does not lack any quality that makes him inferior from them at any level.
- Realism: We find modern realism in his poetry which is also an element of novel and drama. He reveals the reality of society through different characters. His work deals directly with life, manners and real man. He relates every character with its true colors. There is no exaggeration or compression present in his work.
- Simple language: Simple language is another aspect of novel and drama used in his prologue. His poetry has no depth like other poetries. He is describing and expressing different stories in plain English language like drama and novel.
- Art of characterization and pictorial features: Art of characterization is the most important element of drama introduced by Chaucer in the prologue and because of this element Chaucer is often called the painter of the Middle ages as he painted a society through his characters. His way of portraying things is very unique. When we study a character, a proper sketch of that character appears in our minds and stands in front of us in the form of a painting, that’s why the prologue to the Canterbury Tales is also called the art gallery of the Middle ages.
- Characters analysis through their own words: We analyze the personality traits, ethics, living standards, interests and religious reviews of the characters through their own words of mouth. There is a very lively approach to understand characters. Characters reveal themselves, they are free to talk about anything and the author has a very little involvement in their dialogues. This sort of quality is unquestionably an important aspect of drama and novel not of poetry.
- Humour and irony: We also find humorous and ironic elements in his poetry which are purely the aspects of novel and drama. His Canterbury Tales reveals his sense of humour to a great extent as he always discovers something humorous in all his characters to make fun of them. We may call him the first and the best humorist in English literature history.
- Versification: Versification is also an important aspect of novel and drama used by Chaucer in his prologue. He adopted this distinct style in his work which was not followed by any poet before. He exhibits that alliteration is not obligatory. Chaucer has been praised as the first metrical artist in English literature.
- Plot construction: It has a plot development and has a proper beginning, middle and end. It has action, organization of events, conflict, proper setting and character analysis which is normally seen in drama and novels not in poetry.
In conclusion, we can say that The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is the story or the summary of life. We can discover almost all the features, aspects and elements of novel and drama by studying it. All these aspects give evidence that modern English novel and drama have their bases and the main idea from Geoffrey Chaucer’s work. Geoffrey Chaucer has provided roots to start English drama and novel. So, all these arguments prove that “Geoffrey Chaucer is the predecessor of English novel and drama” because he has introduced all the aspects of novel and drama through his work. He is the person from whom the English novel and drama had taken their start.