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Chaucer: Satire And Humor

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Chaucer: Satire And Humor Until Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, he was primarily know for being the writer of love poems, such as The Parliament of Fowls, narratives of doomed passion, and stories of women wronged by their lovers. These works are nothing short of being breath taking, but they do not posses the raw power that the Canterbury Tales do. This unfinished poem, which is about 17,000 lines, is one of the most brilliant works in all of literature. The poem introduces a group of pilgrims journeying from London to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Together, the pilgrims represent a large section of 14th-century English life. To help pass the time of the journey, the pilgrims decide to tell stories. These tales include a wide variety of medieval genres, from humorous fables to religious lectures. They vividly describe medieval attitudes and customs in such areas as love, marriage, and religion. Chaucer was a master storyteller, and his wit his shown throughout his work by the use of humor and satire, and it is most present in The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner's Tale, and The Wife of Bath's Tale. Many people that the most popular par to of the Canterbury Tales it The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, which has long been admired for the lively, individualized portraits it offers. More recent criticism has reacted against this approach, claiming that the portraits are indicative of social humor and satire, "estates satire," and insisting that they should not be read as individualized character portraits like those in a novel (Gittes 15). ...read more.


Overall, the Wife of Bath is made out to be a very ugly woman. Strangely, men seem to like her because she has been married five times (Chaucer 15). The Wife of Bath's description isn't serious at all, and it is only included in the story to provide a the reader with some humor. One other character that receives a somewhat humorous description is the Summoner. Chaucer describes him as having a fiery-red face with narrow eyes, black and scabby eyebrows, and a scanty beard. He also adds that the Summoner had boils and pimples all over his face, a face that any child would fear. Chaucer then compares the Summoner to somewhat of a monster because he says that the Summoner would shout and scream like a madman. As long as liquor was poured, he would utter every single foul word he knew in Latin, and he would continue to say them all day (Chaucer 22). In general, the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales contains all of the background information Chaucer needs in order to tell the rest of his stories. No book should contain just facts, and this is why Chaucer incorporates humor and satire into his story. This technique adds to Chaucer's mastery of prose, and the combination of the two help make a vivid introduction to Chaucer's magical literary world (Rossignol 81). The next story that contains a lot of humor and satire is The Pardoner's Tale. As we find out in The Prologue, the Pardoner a fraudulent person who shows no regrets about selling false relics to people for money. ...read more.


She is telling her fantasy because she is ugly as the old woman is ugly, and the old woman suddenly turns into a beautiful young one at the end of the story. The tale closely resembles the princess and the toad story, where the princess kisses the toad and it turns into a beautiful prince (Gaylord 169). The ending of this tale is very satirical because it pokes fun at the Wife of Bath. She is always talking about how woman should be independent from men, especially if they are their husbands. However, once the woman in the story gets her independence, she is still loyal to her husband, and this defeats the whole purpose of the Wife of Bath's entire argument. For almost a seven hundred year old book, the Canterbury Tales still is a very irresistible collection of analyses of human life. Not much has changed in seven hundred years. Medieval traits that Chaucer described in his tales such as corruption and greed still play a major part in our society today. Also, issues such as woman's rights that were debated back then are still heavily debated today. No other writer has been able to duplicate the way Chaucer has analyzed and described human life, and no one has even come close to doing it in such a humorous and satirical way. The Canterbury Tales brought Geoffrey Chaucer too his full artistic power, and it will forever remain as one of the most brilliant and vivid piece of literature ever written in the English language. ...read more.

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