Chaucer 's The Canterbury Tales Essay

Chaucer 's The Canterbury Tales Essay

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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is set up with a frame tale with 29 pilgrims, and these pilgrims are going on a journey to Canterbury to worship at the shrine of Thomas Becket. These pilgrims represented different parts of society during the time of Chaucer, and Chaucer used the pilgrims to draw critism of the different classes of his time. Chaucer used how society viewed the appearance of people and how it related it to their characteristics to make his critiques of certain aspects of society.
The Nun Prioresses is a prime example of Chaucer’s use of physical appearance to make criticism of a certain social class. In the general prologue, the nun’s non-physical characteristics describe her as trying to be better than herself by,” Of court, and to been estatlich of manere,/ and to ben holden dign of reverence.”(Chaucer 140-141). This passage means that means she tried to talk like she was of a higher class. If the reader just notice the non-physical traits then they could see the criticism Chaucer had for the Christian church. This criticism would be that some members of the religious class would use their position to make themselves look.
If the reader also look at the lines that describe her physical appearance like,” Hir mouth ful small, and therto softe and reed.”(153) This line describes the nun’s lips and to the readers who have not experience Chaucer they could just bypass this line without thinking about the subliminal hints that Chaucer is giving the reader. A reader who has experience with Chaucer can infer that the narrator says the lips are soft for a reason. With how the narrator portrayed as in the general prologue, the reader can make connection that the narrator has had experience with her lips....


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...holy” life and bring them to the court. This “unholy” life that they would get people for were for things like adultery. The narrator tells the reader of one of the acts of this summoner,” A good felawe to have his concubyn/A twelf-month and excuse him ate fulle;/Ful prively a finch eek could he pulle,” these lines tell the reader that the summoner would sleep around with girls which was one thing he would arrest people for. Chaucer use the ugliness of the summoner to show the hypocrisy of the church. Things the members would condemn would be things they would be doing.
Chaucer did not waste a line of the prologue to show his opinion of the world around him. With how the Nun was more of a pleasant sight for men or the ugliness of a summoner, Chaucer used these physical traits to further make his point. This point was to make critiques of the society around him.

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