There is no question that contradictory values make up a major component of The Canterbury Tales. Fate vs. Fortuna, knowledge vs. experience and love vs. hate all embody Chaucer's famous work. These contrasting themes are an integral part of the complexity and sophistication of the book, as they provide for an ironic dichotomy to the creative plot development and undermine the superficial assumptions that might be made. The combination of completely contradictory motifs leads to the unusual stories and outcomes that come to play out in the tales. And these outcomes draw focus on the larger universal issues that in many cases transcend the boundaries of vernacular periods to all of humanity. That is the essence and success of the tales; their themes are universal and their irony is still applicable today.
Madame Eglentine, Chaucer?s Prioress, demonstrates an excellent example of the clash between divergent values. In many ways, her description in the General Prologue personifies the model medieval woman: religious, elegant, innocent, loving and sentimental. Yet clearly there is a vast contrast between her description and the vicious, anti-Semitic account of the young boy mutilated in the Ghetto. It is this contrast which points out the ?binaries? or opposites which make up the Prioress?s character. Her tale involves a bigotry that is unmatched in all of The Canterbury Tales as shown in the following passage:
?And as the boy passed at his happy pace
This cursed Jew grabbed him and held him, slit
His little throat and cast him in a pit?I say, into a privy-drain (Chaucer 190).?
While most would agree that this tale represents a love vs. hate contrast, contemporary...
... middle of paper ...
...an: voice and power in Chaucer's Manciple's tale.? The Journal of English and Germanic Philology Jan 1996
H. Marshall Leicester Jr. ?Newer currents in psychoanalytic criticism, and the difference "it" makes: gender and desire in the 'Miller's Tale.'? ELH Fall 1994
Stewart Justman. ?'The Reeve's Tale' and the honor of men.? Studies in Short Fiction
William F. Woods. ?Society and nature in the 'Cook's Tale.'? Papers on Language & Literature Spring 1996
John A. Pitcher. ?"Word and werk" in Chaucer's Franklin's Tale.? literature and psychology Spring-Summer 2003
Olga Burakov. ?Chaucer's the Cook's Tale. (Critical Essay)? The Explicator Fall 2002
NORMAN KLASSEN. ?TWO CHAUCERS. (Critical Essay)? Medium Aevum Spring 1999
DANIEL T. KLINE. ?"Myne by right": Oath Making and Intent in The Friar's Tale. (Critical Essay)? Philological Quarterly Summer 1998
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- It is clear that Geoffrey Chaucer was acutely aware of the strict classist system in which he lived; indeed the very subject matter of his Canterbury Tales (CT) is a commentary on this system: its shortcomings and its benefits regarding English society. In fact, Chaucer is particularly adept at portraying each of his pilgrims as an example of various strata within 14th century English society. And upon first reading the CT, one might mistake Chaucer's acute social awareness and insightful characterizations as accurate portrayals of British society in the late 1300s and early 1400s.... [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales]
5134 words (14.7 pages)
- Powerful Satire in The Canterbury Tales If one theme can be considered overriding or defining throughout Medieval European society, it would most likely be the concept of social class structure. During this early historical period in Europe, most of society was divided into three classes or 'estates:' the workers, the nobles, and the clerics. By Chaucer's time, however, the powerful estate structure had begun to wear down. Weaknesses in the system became apparent, as many people, such as Chaucer himself, seemed to no longer belong to any one of the three estates.... [tags: Canterbury Tales Essays]
3469 words (9.9 pages)
- Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece "The Canterbury Tales" depicts characters from every stratum of feudal society and exposes the contradictions of the character's social roles. As a Church representative, the Pardoner, for instance, is to be a scammer of gullible believers. His tale is an ironic narrative that speaks about human morality. The Pardoner's tale is of three men finding fortune to have a better life and defeat death, but end up killing each other. Though the use of irony in "The Pardoner's Tale" satirizes both the corruption of the Catholic Church and individual human greed and materialism as evidenced by the characters in the tale and the Pardoner himself.... [tags: Geoffrey Chaucer]
751 words (2.1 pages)
- Idealism in the Knight's Tale Despite its glorified accounts of the chivalrous lives of gentlemen, the Knight¹s Tale proves to be more than a tragically romantic saga with a happy ending. For beneath this guise lies an exploration into the trifling world of the day¹s aristocratic class. Here, where physical substance is superseded by appearance, reality gives way to disillusioned canon and emotion is sacrificed for honor. Naïve idealism emerges as the dominant characteristic of the seemingly flawless knight and we, as the reader, are asked to discern the effect of this fanciful quality on the story as a whole.... [tags: Chaucer Knight's Tale Essays]
1671 words (4.8 pages)
- Irony in The Pardoners Tale and The Nun's Priest's Tale Irony is the general name given to literary techniques that involve surprising, interesting,or amusing contradictions. 1 Two stories that serve as excellent demonstrations of irony are "The Pardoners Tale" and " The Nun's Priest's Tale," both from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Although these two stories are very different, they both use irony to teach a lesson. Of the stories, "The Pardoners Tale" displays the most irony.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
789 words (2.3 pages)
- Masculinity in The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale The Wife of Bath, with the energy of her vernacular and the voraciousness of her sexual appetite, is one of the most vividly developed characters of 'The Canterbury Tales'. At 856 lines her prologue, or 'preambulacioun' as the Summoner calls it, is the longest of any of the pilgrims, and matches the General Prologue but for a few lines. Evidently Chaucer is infatuated with Alisoun, as he plays satirically with both gender and class issues through the Wife's robust rhetoric.... [tags: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales]
2166 words (6.2 pages)
- Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer comments on moral corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. He criticizes many high-ranking members of the Church and describes a lack of morality in medieval society; yet in the “Retraction,” Chaucer recants much of his work and pledges to be true to Christianity. Seemingly opposite views exist within the “Retraction” and The Canterbury Tales. However, this contradiction does not weaken Chaucer’s social commentary. Rather, the “Retraction” emphasizes Chaucer’s criticism of the Church and society in The Canterbury Tales by reinforcing the risk inherent in doing so.... [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays]
924 words (2.6 pages)
- Canterbury Tales - Wife of Bath is Not an Attack on Women and Married Life Feminists have proposed that the Prologue of the Wife of Bath is merely an attack on women and married life. The Prologue is spoken by a woman with strong opinions on how married life should be conducted, but is written by a man. It is important to examine the purpose with which Chaucer wrote it. This is especially so as many of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales condemn themselves out of their own mouths, such as the Monk and the Friar.... [tags: Wife of Bath Essays]
1307 words (3.7 pages)
- The Wife of Bath: Similarities Between the Prologue and the Tale In The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer, The Wife of Bath seems to be one of the more vivacious characters on the pilgrimage. Dame Alice has radical views about women and marriage in a time when women were expected to be passive toward men. There are many things consistent between The Wife of Bath's prologue and her tale. The most apparent similarities that clearly depict the comparison between the prologue and the tale are dominance of both women over their husbands, the duplication of appearance between the old hag and Dame Alice and finally the reality is that the fifth husband and the knight are... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]
725 words (2.1 pages)
- Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales While the majority of literary classics today do well at engaging the reader and allowing them a vicarious understanding of a fictitious character’s life, Chaucer found a way to engage more than just the reader and the character. In his Canterbury Tales, Chaucer masterfully links together himself as the author, himself as a character in the story, the other characters, and then finally the readers. Chaucer’s “narrative flow” forms a type of giant sphere, where connections can be made from both characters and real people to characters connecting with other characters.... [tags: Chaucer Canterbury Tales Essays]
628 words (1.8 pages)