Rhetorical Analysis Of John Chaucer 's ' The Canterbury Tales '

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“Every poet arrives at some sense of how language works. Chaucer 's engagement, like that of the greatest literary figures, goes beyond the brilliant, skillful use of language as a tool of expression, beyond what we usually call 'talent, '" note academics Douglas Wurtele, David Williams, and Robert Myles. They eloquently phrase the wit and mechanics adeptly applied by Chaucer in his forging of a new written language. Not only does he manage to forge this language, but he uses his academic wit and knowledge to critique and criticize the two most sacred institutions of his day. Through his dexterous use of satire and irony, he finds a revolutionary way to reach the general multitude, whose language he adopts in his writing. Chaucer successfully uses satire in a myriad of ways to reach his intended audience: the common people or “yokels” in Canterbury Tales, as well as allow them exposure to skepticism of dogma. The General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales incites simultaneous interest and revulsion to engage his readers, with his sarcasm and humor immediately obvious regarding three main groups of people in a manner approachable to the “people of the street.” The most obvious and vital part of this approachable manner is, of course, his decision to write in the language the common folk of England were beginning to regularly use. While French, Italian, and Latin were all fluent and viable options for Chaucer’s choice of language, he instead settles upon the disdained language which would later be known as English. His decision to write in English rather the other “more beautiful” languages was not only an action of satire but also an effort to communicate with the general public. John Fisher avers in The Importance of Chaucer that... ... middle of paper ... ...re, defined as a dissuasion by inversion employing everyday specificity, exemplary documentation, and current misogynistic topoi presented by an experienced persona.” Through both his Prologue and his Tale, Chaucer succeeds using gravity, humor, and satire, to both luridly and subtly bring his points across to his intended audience as well as a wider readership. Overall, Chaucer is not only acutely aware of his language and his satire, but also of its intrinsic effect upon his readership and his target audience. He understands how to balance gravity, humor, wit, and satire to critically and skeptically question authorities of the day, all the while avoiding persecution for it under the guise of both fiction and honesty. Though Chaucer may sometimes appear crude, he never loses sight of the deeper intellectual games he wishes to play and ideals he wishes to examine.

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