Geoffrey Chaucer Essay, Research Paper
Does Chaucer truly understand human nature? Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, is known as the Father of English poetry. Some have said that Chaucer has the perfect understanding of human nature. All people identify with this piece of poetry in every time period, culture, and race. This universality is why Chaucer has an understanding of human nature.
Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales from 1387 to 1400, when he died. Although he wrote this literature long ago, it still is applicable to today’s society. In today’s society we still have the similar problems. The characteristic of being greedy is still around today. The Doctor is described as having a special love or lust for gold. People in today’s society steal, cheat, and lie for money. Lying is also still a problem of society. When the Miller weighs his grain, he puts his heavy thumb of gold onto the scale to increase the weight, which increases his profit. Now days, companies juggle their money books to avoid paying taxes on all their profit. The Manciple is a smart, illiterate man. “Now isn’t it a marvel of God’s grace that an illiterate fellow can outpace the wisdom of a heap of learned man?” In today’s society, illiteracy is not very common, but still a problem. Greed, deceit, and illiteracy are common to every time period.
In every culture there are two common characteristics: sin and social classes. Sin, doing an action which one knows is wrong, has been around since Adam and Eve. These wrong doings are apparent in Chaucer’s characters. The Monk commits the sin of gluttony, therefore he is overweight. Since the Pardoner chooses to be a homosexual, he participates in an act of wrongdoing. The Summoner is a drunkard and seeks pleasure in alcohol. All three of these men along with the entire human race are guilty of sin, which never changes in any society. Social status is part of every society in every time period. The Knight has the highest title because he is in the “upper” class. The Squire, the Knight’s son, could be considered the “middle” class and the Yeoman is the servant to the Knight or the “lower” class. Everyone is part of a social class that is usually based on wealth, but in this case deals with experience in fighting. Both social status and sin have been a part of every society since the beginning of mankind.
Most literature is aimed at one type of race or community but Chaucer’s literature is not directed to any type of race. The characteristics can be applied to any human, no matter what race. The Franklin has rosy cheeks, but any race can have this attribute. Wearing red tights and having large hips, like the Wife of Bath, does not require being a particular race. Having a lisp or speech impediment, like the Friar, is not subject to any race. All three of these examples are characteristics of every race from Asian to Hispanic.
Yes, Geoffrey Chaucer does have a perfect understanding of human nature because it applies to all humans in any time period, culture, and race. Chaucer’s poetry in The Canterbury Tales is timeless, cultureless, and raceless. These three characteristics prove that Chaucer does understand human nature. We should take Chaucer’s wisdom and apply it to both fellow human beings and ourselves.