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Satire In The Canterbury Tales Essay

1988 words - 8 pages

Satire in The Canterbury Tales
Throughout Geoffrey Chaucer’s, The Canterbury Tales, there are many references of satirical elements that are one of the main reasons why this collection of poems is a classic. However, what makes this uncanny in a way is that Chaucer was not known to be a writer with comedic standards; instead he was known to have been a writer of romantic poems and love oriented ballads. The poem is about a group of pilgrims that gather in an inn located in London and prepare to take a pilgrimage to Canterbury. Through the adventure, they all agree to tell stories as a form of competition, and the best storyteller is entitled the winner. These stories range from comedic ...view middle of the document...

A very “reputable man”, as the text would describe him (Chaucer 4). However, he is then described as such by the narrator, “though eminent, he was prudent and sage, and in his bearing mild as any maid” (4). This description comes off a bit odd because he is initially described as the ideal warrior, and now is shown to have the kindness of a maid. The strength of a warrior and the fairness of a maid are elements that simply contrast, and they are shown to have a humorous component to the knight’s description. The next character that is described is the son of the knight, known as the squire. He is told to be young, around twenty years of age, whom is very athletic and has great strength (5). The squire is also shown to be a ladies man; based on the description of being a lover and hoping to impress the ladies. However, Chaucer adds a spin to this character by adding certain feministic and childlike qualities to his description. This being that he has curly hair, smells of the freshest flowers, has a very short gown, and plays the flute. From what I gather from this part of the text, I believe Chaucer is saying he still has plenty of maturing to do if he is to follow in the footsteps of his father, and at the moment is very confused in this point of his life. The next few major characters that are introduced to the reader are members of the church. They are the prioress, monk, and pardoner, collectively. Again, Chaucer did like to make indirect comments towards the Church at this time, as there was a conflict between the two parties. When the description of the prioress begins, she is described a bit oversized, partakes in secular activities, and paid a bit too much attention to her pet dog while feeding it human food (6). These activities are not particularly known to be of a traditional nun’s life, which is another contrast that Chaucer places in the poem. The monk is also described as having many fine horses and many fine articles of clothing. This is contrary to the basic ideal that monks are only suppose to live of the bare necessities, which is the complete opposite of this monk. He is also one that partakes in hunting activities, which again goes against traditional monk beliefs of being devoted to God and his creations, not killing them. The last significant figure of the church that is described is the pardoner, who happens to be the worst out of the three that I believe. The pardoner’s job was to go around and represent the church while distributing pardons. However, the pardoner was not focused on doing this job, but instead focused on an increase in his income. The pardoner also was selling fake relics to the people whom believed they were real, and essentially was ripping people off (20). The significance of the satire with the church officials is to show that although the church is suppose to be the house of God filled with his disciples, it is actually home to some corrupt figures. Instead of being representatives of...

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