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The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer Essay

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The Canterbury Tales is more than an amusing assortment of stories; it is an illustration of the society in which Geoffrey Chaucer lived. It portrays the culture and class system of the medieval ages in microcosm. Every strata of human life at the time were represented by the many characters whose tales are told. Each character’s basic human nature also plays a role in their stories, and each one has within them the strengths and weaknesses that make up all of humanity. Each character exemplifies their life and reputation through the stories they tell. The Pardoner uses his tale as a ploy to garner money. His tale embodies each deadly sin, and every reader can relate to his story and feel the guilt of his characters. The Wife of Bath’s tale expresses her own ideals in the way her character is given a second chance after committing a crime. The Franklin’s tale, because of its straightforwardness and honesty is a direct representation of the Franklin’s simple and joyful life. Each character tells a tale that is a suitable match to their personality. These characters’ tales represent prevalent themes of the middle ages, including greed, corruption of religious clergymen, violence, revenge, and social status. In Chaucer’s society, the traditional feudal system was losing its importance and the middle class began to emerge. The middle class characters within the Canterbury Tales, with their personal lives and interactions with members of differing social classes, gave an understanding of the growth of society, especially the rising middle class, during medieval times.
The Canterbury Tales examines many important qualities of human nature. In the middle ages, pilgrimages were for personal reflection, atonement, and spiritual restorati...


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... relating them to their individual lives and own thoughts and opinions of the world. Many characters were part of the middle class, a growing social order, and showed that throughout the tales, they had the same level of importance as higher social classes, despite the difference in wages and societal standing. The middle ages was a time of a merging society and it led the way to the importance of companionship that does not concede to social order.


Works Cited

Corrick, James A. “The Early Middle Ages” Lucent Books, Inc., 1995
Lynch, Jack “The Canterbury Tales (Critical Insights)” Salem Press, 2010
Bishop, Morris. “The Middle Ages” Mariner Books, 2001
Ashton, Gail. “Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (Analysing Texts)” Palgrave Macmillan, 1998
Mann, Jill. “The Canterbury Tales” Penguin Group, 2005
McAleavy, Tony. “Life in a Medieval Castle” Enchanted Lion Books, 2003


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