The Satire And Humor In Chaucer

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The Satire And Humor In Chaucer’S Canterbury Tales Essay, Research Paper The Satire and Humor In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Until Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, he was primarily know for being the writer of love poems, such as The Parliament of Fowls, narratives of doomed passion, and stories of women wronged by their lovers. These works are nothing short of being breath taking, but they do not posses the raw power that the Canterbury Tales do. This unfinished poem, which is about 17,000 lines, is one of the most brilliant works in all of literature. The poem introduces a group of pilgrims journeying from London to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Together, the pilgrims represent a large section of 14th-century English life. To help pass the

time of the journey, the pilgrims decide to tell stories. These tales include a wide variety of medieval genres, from humorous fables to religious lectures. They vividly describe medieval attitudes and customs in such areas as love, marriage, and religion. Chaucer was a master storyteller, and his wit his shown throughout his work by the use of humor and satire, and it is most present in The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner’s Tale, and The Wife of Bath’s Tale. Many people that the most popular par to of the Canterbury Tales it The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, which has long been admired for the lively, individualized portraits it offers. More recent criticism has reacted against this approach, claiming that the portraits are indicative of social humor and

satire, “estates satire,” and insisting that they should not be read as individualized character portraits like those in a novel (Gittes 15). It is the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales that serves to establish firmly the framework for the entire story- collection: 2 the pilgrimage that turns into a tale-telling competition. Since The Prologue begins the story, it is only fit that it contains the most humor and satire. The Prologue begins with the Knight. In Chaucer’s description of the Knight, he describes him as being the perfect being. He’s tall, handsome, brave, and he has won many battles. He has traveled to many places because Chaucer tells us that he has fought in Prussia, Lithuania, Russia, Spain, North Africa, and Turkey (Chaucer 3). However, even though Chaucer

describes the Knight as being the perfect being, he begins to poke fun at him. He insists that the Knight was “a very gentle knight.” This is very strange because Chaucer thinks the Knight to be the ideal warrior, yet he believes him to be gentle (Brown 6). This is a very humorous contrast, and it adds a little mystery to the Knight’s description. The next character in the story is the Squire. The Squire is the son of the Knight, and he is described as being very young and handsome. Many people read the Squire’s description and think him to be a “to die for” young man. However, when you analyze the text closely, Chaucer adds some feminine and childlike traits to the Squire’s description. It is said that the Squire has long curly hair, is full of flowers, and he

wears a very short gown. He likes to sit around and just stare at the sky, and he also likes to sit and play the flute (Chaucer 4). I believe that Chaucer is trying to portray the Squire as being very confused, and even though he may have a lot to offer the world, he still has to find the time to grow up. The next bunch of characters that are analyzed in The Prologue are the members of the Church. These characters include the Nun, Monk, Friar, and the Pardoner. One aspect of medieval life that I came to realize even before I read parts of the Canterbury Tales was the 3 importance of religion. History books have placed the church high on the priority list of every single member of medieval times. Chaucer, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach when describing the