The Canterbury Tales: Essay on the Middle Ages

The Canterbury Tales: Essay on the Middle Ages

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Essay on the middle ages
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer

Explore the use Chaucer makes of parody by referring to at least two tales.

Chaucer’s book “The Canterbury Tales” presents a frame story written at the end of the 14th century that is set through a group of pilgrims participation in a story-telling contest that they make up to entertain each other while they travel to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Because of this, some of the tales become particularly attractive for they are written within a frame of parody which, as a style that mocks genre, is usually achieved by the deliberate exaggeration of some aspects of it for comic effect. In fact, as a branch of satire mimicry, its purpose may be corrective as well as derisive. (Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms) Chaucer, therefore, uses parody to highlight – satirize - some aspects of the medieval society that should be re-evaluated. He uses the tales and the behaviours of its characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of the English society at that time, therefore the tales turn satirical, elevated, ironic, earthy, bawdy, and comical. When analysing the Knight’s and the Miller’s Tale, one can realise how Chaucer mocks the courtly love convention, and other social codes of behaviours typical of the medieval time.

The Knight’s Tale, for example, uses the concept of a knight not only to parody the concept of the hero, but also to question the well-established courtly love convention. This concept refers to a set of ideas about love that was enormously influential on the literature and culture of the medieval times for it gave men the chance to feel freely; and women, the opportunity to be an important element in the story – not only decora...


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...gerated stories, so Chaucer the author, can use this parodies to satirize medieval society in an innocent but genius way “Be then advised, and hold me free from blame; / Men should not be too serious at a game.” (The Miller’s Tale Prologue). It is through of the eyes of Chaucer the pilgrim, and through his tendency to use propensity long words, double banked adjectives, long, complicated sentences and paragraphs, attractive mannerisms of expression that there parodist features can be identified and then exploit. Chaucer the poet, is therefore a man who takes it upon himself to correct censure and ridicule the follies and vices of society and thus to bring contempt and mockery upon aberrations from a desirable and civilized norm. Thus Chaucer parodies actually convey a protest, a sublimation and refinement of anger and indignation – a satire – of the medieval times.

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The Canterbury Tales: Essay on the Middle Ages

- Essay on the middle ages The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer Explore the use Chaucer makes of parody by referring to at least two tales. Chaucer’s book “The Canterbury Tales” presents a frame story written at the end of the 14th century that is set through a group of pilgrims participation in a story-telling contest that they make up to entertain each other while they travel to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Because of this, some of the tales become particularly attractive for they are written within a frame of parody which, as a style that mocks genre, is usually achieved by the deliberate exaggeration of some aspects of it for comic effect....   [tags: Geoffrey Chaucer and parody]

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