Chaucer's Use of Satire to Reach Specific Audiences Essay

Chaucer's Use of Satire to Reach Specific Audiences Essay

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“One may say that pilgrimages are just as much about the journey as they are about the destination.” (Higl) Pilgrimages are very important to religions around the world. They are important for people when they are working on a deeper faith, and these pilgrimages are to places of great importance. It is important to note that people do not only learn when they are at their destination, but also on the trip to those destinations. “The Canterbury Tales”, Chaucer’s unfinished work, was a group of stories about a group on pilgrimage, but the stories did not take place at the destination. These were stories told on the way to Canterbury. They were also very satiric stories. They showed great hypocrisy, and immorality. The stories seemed to have a purpose, and to be pointed towards specific audiences. These audiences would most likely have taken Chaucer’s work as a joke at first, but then quickly seen how the words cut sharply into the way that people lived during that time. Using Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”, you can analyze his use of satire to reach specific audiences, three of which include the church, the common man, and those married, or intended to be.
“The Pardoner’s Prologue” is an introduction given by the Pardoner to his fellow pilgrims, and his prologue is one of the greatest moments of satire used by Chaucer in all of “The Canterbury Tales”. The Pardoner is a man that preaches to groups, and he pardons them of their sins, after given a tithe. He tells the group how he will reach about others greed to get the greatest tithe, then use that money for himself. “Pardoner is someone who emphasizes seemingly hypocritical excesses in his own character.” (Boenig) He is the one that shows of his hypocrisy, no other character is ...


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...used to reach the common man. The satire used on common group members like the cook would bring in members of the middle class to read his story. They wanted characters that they could relate to, and Chaucer gave them those characters, even if they were being played fun of. Finally, Chaucer took aim at all of marriage in “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue”. The wife has had five husbands, and she used many of them for their money. The wife was, and is, exactly what all men are afraid of when moving towards marriage. Chaucer’s satire brings about great reactions from his readers, but what if he did not mean it to be satiric? “If the reader is to take Chaucer at his word, he seems to suggest that his works were being misread.” (Helterman) Did he really intend to invoke satiric reactions from others, or did he just intend for people to see these as stories of entertainment?

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