The Satire And Humor In Chaucer

’ S Canterbury Tales Essay, Research Paper

The Satire and Humor In Chaucer ’ s Canterbury Tales

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Until Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, he was chiefly know for being the author of love verse forms, such as The Parliament of Fowls, narrations of doomed passion, and narratives of adult females wronged by their lovers. These plants are nil short of being breath pickings, but they do non posses the natural power that the Canterbury Tales do. This unfinished verse form, which is about 17,000 lines, is one of the most superb plants in all of literature. The verse form introduces a group of pilgrims traveling from London to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Together, the pilgrims represent a big subdivision of 14th-century English life. To assist go through the clip of the journey, the pilgrims decide to state narratives. These narratives include a broad assortment of mediaeval genres, from humourous fabrications to spiritual talks. They vividly describe mediaeval attitudes and imposts in such countries as love, matrimony, and faith. Chaucer was a maestro narrator, and his humor his shown throughout his work by the usage of wit and sarcasm, 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, individualised portrayals it offers. More recent unfavorable judgment has reacted against this attack, claiming that the portrayals are declarative of societal wit and sarcasm, “ estates sarcasm, ” and take a firm standing that they should non be read as individualised character portrayals like those in a novel ( Gittes 15 ) . It is the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales that serves to set up steadfastly the model for the full story- aggregation:


the pilgrim’s journey that turns into a tale-telling competition. Since The Prologue begins the narrative, it is merely fit that it contains the most humor and sarcasm.

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, weather, and he has won many conflicts. He has traveled to many topographic points 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 jab merriment at him. He insists that the Knight was “ a really soft knight. ” This is really unusual because Chaucer thinks the Knight to be the ideal warrior, yet he believes him to be soft ( Brown 6 ) . This is a really humourous contrast, and it adds a small enigma to the Knight ’ s description.

The following character in the narrative is the Squire. The Squire is the boy of the Knight, and he is described as being really immature and fine-looking. Many people read the Squire ’ s description and believe him to be a “ to decease for ” immature adult male. 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 really short gown. He likes to sit around and merely stare at the sky, and he besides likes to sit and play the flute ( Chaucer 4 ) . I believe that Chaucer is seeking to portray the Squire as being really confused, and even though he may hold a batch to offer the universe, he still has to happen the clip to turn up.

The following clump 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 facet of mediaeval life that I came to recognize even before I read parts of the Canterbury Tales was the


importance of faith. History books have placed the church high on the precedence list of every individual member of mediaeval times. Chaucer, on the other manus, takes an wholly different attack when depicting the spiritual pilgrims in his narrative. Chaucer begins with the description of the Nun. When you think of a Nun, you think of a really holy and spiritual figure, but Chaucer ’ s Nun is the exact antonym of this stereotyped averment. The Nun likes to make many different non-religious things, such as imbibing and taking portion in athleticss. She is besides haunted animate beings, and she is in love with them so much she prefers them over her fellow human existences ( Brewer 18 ) .

The following spiritual figure Chaucer describes is the Monk. Normally, Monks live in monasteries or churches, but Chaucer ’ s Monk is the maestro of his ain estate who is slightly affluent. The Monk wore really all right apparels, such as a cloak made from the finest grey pelt in the land and a pin made signifier solid gold. Monks are supposed to populate with merely what the demand, and the Monk decidedly doesn ’ t need the finest cloaks or pins made from solid gold ( Ferster 25 ) . Chaucer besides says that the Monk ’ s merely life is the life of a huntsman and rider. A Monk ’ s life should be devoted to God and his people, non the violent death of his creative activities.

Chaucer ’ s Pardoner is the worst out of all of the spiritual figures. Queerly, the Pardoner ’ s description is the longest and most graphic ( Ferster 36 ) . The Pardoner ’ s occupation was that he was excessively go about and give out forgivenesss from the church. However, this wasn ’ t the Pardoner ’ s chief concern. All the Pardoner cared for was money. On the side of the Pardoner ’ s Equus caballus was a really big slip. In it, purportedly, were ancient spiritual relics such as Saint Peter ’ s canvas, a icky transverse full of rocks, and a bottle of ancient castanetss. The Pardoner sold these relics to people


who thought that they were echt. However, the relics were far from being existent, and the people were being ripped off ( Chaucer 22 ) .

What Chaucer is seeking to make with these descriptions is show the people that even though the church was supposed to be a house of God, it was truly a house of corruptness. His satirical descriptions of the spiritual pilgrims show that they didn ’ t care for what the church stood for or for what the people believed in, all they cared about was their ain personal public assistance and self satisfaction. In a sense, Chaucer is stating that the Church ’ s existent foundation was money, and all of its faith was merely implemented to guarantee that the people would maintain coming back ( Brewer 68 ) .

The remainder of the Prologue contains little but important descriptions of the other characters. The most humourous of these descriptions is the description of the Wife of Bath. Pilgrims that are lower on the societal graduated table normally don ’ t have really graphic descriptions. , but Chaucer makes an exclusion when he describes the Wife of Bath. He starts off his description by stating of the Wife of Bath ’ s really humourous physical description. Chaucer says that she has a spread between her dentitions, a really big and wide organic structure, and a really fat natess. He besides adds that she is really obscene and rambunctious. Overall, the Wife of Bath is made out to be a really ugly adult female. Queerly, work forces seem to wish her because she has been married five times ( Chaucer 15 ) . The Wife of Bath ’ s description International Relations and Security Network ’ t serious at all, and it is merely included in the narrative to supply a the reader with some wit.

One other character that receives a slightly humourous description is the Summoner. Chaucer describes him as holding a fiery-red face with narrow eyes, black and scabby superciliums,


and a bare face fungus. He besides adds that the Summoner had furuncles and hickeies all over his face, a face that any kid would fear. Chaucer so compares the Summoner to somewhat of a monster because he

says that the Summoner would shout and shout like a lunatic. Equally long as spirits was poured, he would express every individual foul word he knew in Latin, and he would go on to state them all twenty-four hours ( Chaucer 22 ) .

In general, the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales contains all of the background information Chaucer needs in order to state the remainder of his narratives. No book should incorporate merely facts, and this is why Chaucer incorporates wit and sarcasm into his narrative. This technique adds to Chaucer ’ s command of prose, and the combination of the two aid do a graphic debut to Chaucer ’ s charming literary universe ( Rossignol 81 ) .

The following narrative that contains a batch of wit and sarcasm is The Pardoner ’ s Tale. As we find out in The Prologue, the Pardoner a deceitful individual who shows no declinations about selling false relics to people for money. The Pardoner displacements from minutes of direct honestness to shameless fraudulence, openly acknowledging the fast ones of his trade to the travellers but however trying to utilize these assorted methods on these travellers who are cognizant of his strategies. The Pardoner is in many senses a warped character, unable to keep to any consistent codification of moral behaviour. The Pardoner is non a moral adult male, but he does hold a moral system which he seldom follows ( Gaylord 105 ) .

The Pardoner ’ s Tale starts off with three work forces are in a hostel imbibing beer. They find out that their friend has died, and they want to happen out who killed him. When they ask a male child that works at the hostel who has killed their friend, he tells them the same 1 who has been killing everyone recently: decease. Thinking that decease is a physical being, the three work forces make a treaty. They


vow that they will trail decease and they won ’ t halt until they find and kill him. With one last toast, the work forces set off on their journey. Not long after the start, the three travellers come across an old adult male who says that he can non decease. He tells them that he knows where decease is, and, excited about the intelligence, the three work forces inquire the adult male where he is. The old adult male tells them that decease is beneath a tree in a nearby ally manner. The three work forces find the tree, but they don ’ t happen decease. Alternatively, they find a box, and inside the box is gilded. To do a long narrative short, the three work forces end up killing themselves because of their greed. They did happen decease, but non in the manner that they had hoped ( Chaucer 302-309 ) .

In a manner, The Pardoner ’ s Tale is a direct extension of the personality of the Pardoner. The character of the Pardoner is ubiquitous throughout the narrative, which is told in an daunting manner that intends to make a sense of horror at the effects for iniquitous action. The Pardoner takes a spiritual function in the narrative because he is prophesying against wickedness ( Brown 156 ) . What is dry, and humourous, about this is that the Pardoner himself is one of the biggest evildoers of all. The Pardoner admits that he feels guilty, but yet he still continues his iniquitous actions.

Another humourous thing about The Pardoner ’ s Tale is that Pardoner truly ne’er references anything about the three chief characters of the narrative. Besides the fact that he mentions that they are goons, the Pardoner ne’er mentions any separating features. Basically, the lone existent thing we know about the characters is that one of them is younger than the other two ( Morse 143 ) . The lone slightly developed character in the narrative is the old adult male. He is a monstrous figure that is condemned to walk the Earth for infinity. He mentions that he

doesn ’ t believe in Eden, and the lone manner he can decease is if he exchanges bodies with another adult male. This brings up my following point: this is the lone thing even closely related to faith in the


narrative. One would believe that a adult male which such a spiritual stature as the Pardoner would state a narrative that would hold to make with God or the church. The Pardoner ’ s Tale doesn ’ t even come near. Alternatively, the Pardoner chooses to state a narrative about greed and money, the merely two things that are on his head.

One concluding narrative that contains a important sum of wit and sarcasm is The Wife of Bath ’ s Tale. We find out in The Prologue that the Wife of Bath is one of the most to the full realized characters in the Canterbury Tales. She is really froward, rambunctious, and she is invariably contending to advance adult female. She believes that adult female have the right to make anything the want, and the Torahs of the land and the church that prevent this are unmoral and unfair ( Gittes 267 ) . This is the footing for The Wife of Bath ’ s Tale.

The Wife of Bath ’ s Tale starts off with a knight who comes across a maiden and rapes her. The knight was brought in forepart of King Arthur, and the King wished to reprobate him to decease for the offense that he committed. The Queen, nevertheless, had different programs. She said that she would save the knight if he could reply one inquiry: “ what do adult female most want? ” She gave the knight one twelvemonth and sent him off. The knight smartly look for an reply, but he couldn ’ t happen the right 1. One twenty-four hours he came upon an old adult female and he asked her for the reply. She said she knew the reply, and she would state him if he would hold to get married her. He agreed, and she told him this reply: “ adult females desire to hold the sovereignty and to govern over their husbands. ” When he went to the Queen with the right reply, he was spared, but he still had to get married the old adult female. She sensed that he was disturbed, and she asked him what he would wish, old and low or immature and independent. When he kissed her, the adult female became


immature and they lived merrily of all time after. The Wife of Bath ends the narrative with this moral: allow Christ allow all adult females submissive hubbies who sexually satisfy their married womans ( Chaucer 334-345 ) .

The Wife of Bath ’ s Tale is humourous because it centers around the Wife of Bath ’ s belief that adult female should rule over work forces. Many feminine issues are addressed, such as male laterality and matrimony. The personalities of the old adult female and the Wife of Bath are about indistinguishable, which shows that The Wife of Bath in a manner is stating a narrative about herself. She is stating her phantasy because she is ugly as the old adult female is ugly, and the old adult female all of a sudden turns into a beautiful immature one at the terminal of the narrative. The narrative closely resembles the princess and the frog narrative, where the princess kisses the frog and it turns into a beautiful prince ( Gaylord 169 ) .

The stoping of this narrative is really satirical because it pokes merriment at the Wife of Bath. She is ever speaking about how adult female should be independent from work forces, particularly if they are their hubbies. However, one time the adult female in the narrative gets her independency, she is still loyal to her hubby, and this defeats the whole intent of the Wife of Bath ’ s full statement.

For about a seven hundred twelvemonth old book, the Canterbury Tales still is a really resistless aggregation of analysis ’ s of human life. Not much has changed in seven hundred old ages. Medieval traits that Chaucer described in his narratives such as corruptness and greed still play a major portion in our society today. Besides, issues such as adult female ’ s rights that were debated back so are still to a great extent debated today. No other author has been able to double the manner Chaucer has analyzed and described human life, and no 1 has even come near to making it in such a humourous and satirical manner. The Canterbury Tales brought Geoffrey Chaucer excessively his full artistic power, and it


will everlastingly stay as one of the most superb and graphic piece of literature of all time written in the English linguistic communication.

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