Canterbury Tales Essay Essay, Research Paper
Geoffrey Chaucer presents a realistic portrayal of the medieval period in The Canterbury Tales. These details are especially accurate of the pilgrimages to Canterbury and the types of people who made them. Whether the character and its description are based on actual historic figures, then being called ?individuals,? or are more general portrayals, ?types,? they give the reader a genuine idea of the medieval society.
Chaucer displays several aspects of this society: a range of classes or groups; different occupations; medieval dress of various types of people; the condition of the Church (mainly in his opinion). It can be understood which characters he sees as particularly good or bad from his use of satirical irony towards the dislikes. The combination of description and opinion creates a realistic depiction.
The many occupations include a Knight, a Squire, and a Yeoman of the feudal group. There are also a Nun, a Monk, a Friar, a Pardoner, and a Summoner of the ecclesiastical order. And of the urban group, a Merchant, an Oxford Cleric, a Sergeant at the Law, a Franklin, a Haberdasher, a Dyer, a Carpenter, a Weaver, a Cook, a Skipper, a Doctor, a Woman from Bath, a Parson, a Plowman, a Reeve, a Miller, a Manciple, and a Host.
Each is identified in a unique way. The Knight, for example, is described as a ?distinguished? warrior who is unexpectedly modest, wearing dirty clothing, reused after many battles whereas the Yeoman?s weapons and tools are described as being well equipped for the forest. Comments are made to display the corruption of the Church in each passage concerning the clergy: the Nun is only attempting to act like a loving person; the Monk enjoys hunting and eating ?a fat swan? roasted whole? more than he should; the Friar is the ?finest beggar of his batch.? The Skipper?s personality is what is told about him, and a past event of making prisoners walk the plank is mentioned to support Chaucer?s claim that the Skipper is a cruel man. The Cook?s skills are described with the end note that it would be disgusting to eat the food of a dirty man with an ?ulcer? on his knee. Each character is told of in a way to give Chaucer?s message or opinion about that ?individual? or those ?types? of people in the medieval age.
Chaucer explains everything about the social status of the medieval age that can be explained or implied with the description of characters. He gives an example of a knight of England, describes the dress of certain occupations, notes some positions that were despised at the time, and, most obviously, criticizes the corruption of and a lack of devotion in the Church and the clergy. By describing twenty-six pilgrims, Chaucer tells us that many people of diverse personalities and backgrounds set out on journeys to Canterbury but most were far from having a devotion to their religion.