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Chaucer's Art of Characterization

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Chaucer?s Art or Technique of Characterization? Chaucer outlines his thirty pilgrims in ?The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales?. He is the first great painter of characters in English Literature. He has painted the whole of English nation during the fourteen the century, ranging from knightly class to the order of Clergymen. The Character sketches are brief, yet lucid and comprehensive. Both the in and out of the characters are depicted in such a superb way that the entire personality seems moving before the reader?s eyes. It is infect Chaucer?s unique rich and original art of characterization that has enabled him to delineate memorable portraits. For the purpose he employs several techniques of characterization, some of whom were popular among the contemporaries, while the others are purely his own. I. Characterization by theory of Humor One of the major techniques of characterization which was current in the medieval authors was the theory of humor. This theory divided personalities according to the pre-dominance of one of the elements-fire, water, air and earth. For example, his character was dominated by humor of blood, which on its turn was understood to produce a large appetite and pleasure in physical satisfaction. ...read more.


But Chaucer?s Monk is an individual with bald head and rolling eyes, glowing like the fire under a cauldron. The Oxford Church is the type of good scholars, not interested in worldly glory, but in the advancement of knowledge and learning. But Chaucer?s Oxford Clerk comes as a figure of individual, by his learning, his hollow-cheeks, grave look and his threadbare cloak. In short Chaucer?s characters are types as well as individuals. 4. Characters are real and universal Chaucer?s characters are real and universal because no one is like them, and they are real and universal because they are so like us. His people are always on move. Never do they become shadowy or lifeless. They shout and swear, laugh and weep, interrupt the story teller, pass compliments and in general behave themselves, as we might expect them to be. 5. Characterization by profession of Characters Another portrait delineations technique which Chaucer uses is to define the characters to a great or lesser extent by the job or profession, they do. The deferent pilgrims represent different professions. The War-like Elements is represented by the Knight, The Square, and Yeoman. ...read more.


The goodness of the ?Gentle rascal? becomes clear when Chaucer comments that just for a quart of wine he would allow a sinner to keep on committing sins. 8. Chaucer?s use of Contrast Chaucer utilizes the technique of contrast in drawing the portraits of the pilgrims. The good and the bad rub shoulders together. We have paragon of virtue in the characters of the Parson and The Ploughman, we have monsters of vice in the characters of the Reeve, The Miller and the Summoner. The knight, is foil to his son, the lusty Squire; the Oxford Clerk, is the very opposite of the merrymaking Monk. In this way Chaucer distinguishes the characters through the exhibition of dissimilar qualities. Chaucer a detached Observer Chaucer?s art of characterization is free from personal bias. He portrays his characters, objectively, impartially and disinterestedly. He depicts what he sees personally. He has the seeing eye, the memory, the judgment to select and the capacity to expound. Conclusion Lastly, two conclusions may be drawn from the above discussion of Chaucer?s art of Characterization. His world of man is varied and wide. In the words of Dryden . ?There is God?s plenty? and secondly, it is through the depiction of his characters, Chaucer has managed to give an expression to his vision of life which is both joyous and realistic. ...read more.

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