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Chaucer – Canterbury Tales

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Introduction

A vivid description of life in medieval England "thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages" I will consider five different characters in this study of medieval life. These will be the Shipman who gives a view of the importance of shipping in medieval times, the Knight who is a good example of military life and its importance at the time, the Miller who gives a view of agriculture at the time which was very important because it was the main form of employment, the Parson who an the example of what the church was supposed to be like and the Pardoner who is a good representation of the corruptness in the church at the time. From these I hope to give a good slice of medieval life at the time of Chaucer. "With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake" The Shipman like most of his fellow pilgrims is very skilled at his profession and has spent a long time in perfecting it. He is a master mariner, "woninge fer by weste" dwelling from the west of England, with a wide experience and ability. He comes from Dartmouth, "he was of Dertemouthe", and has a ship called the Magdelene His understanding of coasts and tides is very good. ...read more.

Middle

At the time there was a big difference between the poor village folk and the nobles who had a lot of power over their land. A knights life was very much truth and chivalry, this was full of wars and conquest. Such knights as him would have been bringing in a lot of money into the country from pillaging in crusades. "a good man was ther of religioun" The Parson is an example of what the church was supposed to stand for at the time. He is an embodiment of moral virtues which is what is missing in the church at the time which Chaucer expresses in the other pilgrims. With church being such a major part of everyday life compared to that of today so the corruptness is of major importance because a few people are making a lot of money from a lot of very poor people which is what the Pardoner is mainly about. He represents the truthful, patient faith that holds firm as standards collapse on all sides. There is a strong sense of personality that comes from the parson, what is a very humble person who is very kind and Chaucer acknowledges this. "a gentle pardoner" The Pardoner is the contrast of the Parson. ...read more.

Conclusion

These hard lives did lead some people to become thieves to make a living or just to have a better life; this had then spread to the church. Despite this, though, the group of pilgrims whom Chaucer joins at southwark does not provide a complete cross-section of English society, but it is still very accurate. Their background of inns, farmyards, city streets and middle class houses has a very wide range. From the farms and benches of the poor to the walled gardens and banquets of the rich, Chaucer seems to have covered the whole texture of medieval life. Maybe this was what he was trying to show, a sort of record of life in his time. It is evident that these men and women were very individual due to the social and economic pressures, which had warped and shaped them. They have great self-confidence, which suggests a society whose growing wealth was encouraging the middle classes to assert themselves. For instants the Wife of Baths red stockings which are very bold due to her expensive tastes. The Miller defrauds his customers by stealing part of the corn which he grinds, and the Shipman mixes piracy and theft with his lawful affairs at sea. 1550 words Chaucer - Canterbury Tales ?? ?? ?? ?? Alex Drewett March 2002 ...read more.

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