• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the element of irony is frequently used in order to enhance the moral principles of the tales and to mock the flaws in society.

Extracts from this document...


In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the element of irony is frequently used in order to enhance the moral principles of the tales and to mock the flaws in society. This usage of irony is noticeably seen in the Wife of Bath's tale of a knight whose penalty for raping a maiden is to discover what women truly desire above all. Irony is present in the interceding of the queen, the offers of the old hag, and the transformation of the hag into a beautiful young woman. First and foremost, the knight comes upon an unaware maiden and takes advantage of her resulting in the serious punishment of beheading. Immediately the reader shall recognize and think it strange that the knight is indeed the traditional hero of the story although he happens to be a rapist. ...read more.


Thus, the knight sets out on his quest, and along the way he encounters an ugly old woman with an offer to save his life if he pledges himself to her in return. Once again, the same twist is displayed - a female presents the knight with an opportunity to live. Then he returns to court and is able to answer this to the queen, "Women desire to have dominion over their husbands, and their lovers too; they want to have mastery over them. That's what you most desire" (Chaucer 245). Now it is finally clear, and ironic, that the knight took what women want the most away from the maiden that he had raped, and hence was the reason for the queen to offer such a quest. ...read more.


However it is unclear whether or not the knight only provides her with the response that she was looking for and not have truly learnt a lesson. If not, then irony once again arises in the fact that the old woman gives in return a shallow change of mind a skin deep change of appearance. If skillfully used, irony can be most effective in order to deliver a story's message to the reader. This makes it a key element in satire present in other works within Canterbury Tales such as the Summoner's Tale in order to detail the corruption of the church and the Pardoner's Tale which enhances men's downfall due to greed. Because without irony, it is much more difficult to get the point across while being entertainingly humorous to the audience at the same time. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Geoffrey Chaucer section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    To what extent does the Pardoner manipulate his audience?

    4 star(s)

    But you know what I mean) the teller, calling their self-awareness into question. We know also that the Pardoner understands the radix maxim primarily as a joke, a ploy, and a weakness in others to exploit: "The root of evil is love of earthy things, so don't hesitate to give yours to me."

  2. English society of Chaucer's time

    kept much of the money they were supposed to give to the poor. At one point in his life Chaucer lived in a part of London that was very near several large monastic orders, and he probably got to see a good deal of their life and work.

  1. Explore your relationship with the wife of bath

    I think that she considers her many marriages a sort of affirmation of her sexuality. She wants others to see her as the kind of woman who won't let the standards that the society of the time have set get in the way of getting what she wants, especially if what she wants is the opposite sex.

  2. According to what principles, and for what purposes, do Twentieth Century women-writers revise and ...

    In the brothers Grimm telling of the story the characters, especially Red Riding Hood are developed further from Perrault's version, each demonstrating their own strain of thought. Bettelheim suggests that Perrault's inclusion of the moral transforms Red Riding Hood into a 'fallen woman.'5 Whereas the brothers Grimm are depicting the

  1. How appropriate is it that the character of the Pardoner tells the tale?

    However, Chaucer describes a completely different pardoner, "This is what pardoners had originally been; but if we turn from this summary to the pardoner Chaucer describes, we find not a replica but an appalling parody." He is aware that he is usurping the role of priest, and is happy to

  2. Chaucer's Models of Authorship and his Anxiety of Influence in the Prologue to the ...

    Using the English vernacular, over French and Latin, Chaucer wanted to establish the artistic integrity of the English language and he did this with fabulous success. Less than a century later, Thomas Hoccleve 'canonised' Chaucer 'as a literary progenitor, as a quasi-religious icon, as a model of authoritative advice, and

  1. The franklins tale raises issues about what it really means to be "noble" ...

    It is evident the Franklin would like to be a real knight. Chaucer shows this by choosing to make the Franklin rather self conscious and insecure. It becomes clear that the Franklin is obsessive by the notion of gentillesses. As the prologue begins the Franklin apologies for the fact that

  2. Dear Arch Bishop of Canterbury, (letter on Geoffry Chaucer's 'The General Prologue').

    This defiantly highlights the fact that he is incredibly greedy. I am shocked that only one person took their religious duties seriously, the parson. The parson is the lowest of all the religious people, but he is the only one to perform his religious duties honestly and responsibly.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work