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Geoffrey Chaucer's Experiences In the Canterbury Tales Essay

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In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer describes the journeys and life lessons of thirty fictitious pilgrims. Scholars explain that only one of the thirty pilgrims was indeed Chaucer, but other characters in the Canterbury Tales represent the struggles of Chaucer as well. Although the pilgrims’ tales were pretend, they were based on actual events that Chaucer experienced throughout his lifetime. He represents his own insecurities and flaws throughout the array of the characters’ tales. Situation irony of the characters conceals Chaucer’s role while it entertains the audience. Overall, Chaucer actually writes about himself within at least three different character descriptions in the Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath Tale’s knight, the Oxford Cleric, and Franklin.
The foundation of the Wife of Bath’s tale about the knight is based on Chaucer’s lust and rape case. The Wife of Bath creates a story about a knight that raped an innocent peasant girl in a field. Similarity, Chaucer was known for the raptus of Cecilia Chaumpaigne in 1380. (Biographicon 2) There is a disagreement whether the law classified Chaucer’s raptus as rape or kidnapping because in the twelfth century, there was “confusion of the terminology dealing with rape and abduction” (Hornsby 116). Either way, Chaucer and the knight had forceful control over innocent women.
The Knight and Chaucer both rely on their high social classes in order to excuse themselves from their punishments. According to Madeline Hunter, “[t]he punishment appeared to be criminal oriented rather than either crime or victim oriented” during the Medieval Times. (Hunter 4). The social class of the criminal correlates with the punishment that he receives afterwards. Neither Chaucer nor the K...


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...omposes a piece about the Franklin to explain to readers that although Chaucer’s lived a wealthy lifestyle, he worked hard for his possessions.
In summation, Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales to reveal his numerous life adventures with readers. His goal was to share his adventures, yet to write them in an array of styles and perspectives. Readers cherish Chaucer and his craftsmanship because Chaucer entertains the audience so effectively; the audience overlooks the factual content of the story because they are distracted by the humorous mockery and the metaphysical viewpoint. Chaucer challenges his ability to write about himself through different personas while about himself through different genders and social classes. Although Chaucer passed away, he will live forever as long as readers learn about him from his characters that he created.



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