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Compare and contrast the presentation of three pilgrims from Chaucer's General Prologue' and show how their descriptions add to our understanding of his society

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the presentation of three pilgrims from Chaucer's General Prologue' and show how their descriptions add to our understanding of his society 'The Canterbury Tales' is a group of tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer in about 1387. Chaucer planned to write 24 tales but died before he could complete them, so, The Canterbury Tales consist of 22 verse tales and two long prose tales. The 'General Prologue' gives a brief but vivid description of each pilgrim journeying to Canterbury before the pilgrims actually begin telling their tales. Most literature written in the medieval period was written in either French or Latin, especially poems or Holy Scriptures, so when Chaucer wrote 'The Canterbury Tales' in Middle English he was making a statement. Chaucer wanted to promote the vernacular language of England and so wrote 'The Canterbury Tales' in Middle English. Three of the best portraits of the pilgrims in the 'General Prologue' are of the Knight, the Wife of Bath and the Monk who all tell us a great deal about Chaucer's society. The Knight is a "verray, parfit, gentil knyght", who earns his living by fighting for his faith and his king. ...read more.

Middle

The five husbands could suggest that the Wife of Bath was an early feminist because she uses men to her own advantage and in her tale she claims women's superiority over men. Chaucer gently mocks the gregarious Wife of Bath by telling the reader in an exaggerated manner that on Sunday at Church the wimple that she wore "weyeden ten pound", this also hints at her materialistic and vain nature, which is completely opposite to the Knight. The Wife of Bath had clothes such as; "hosen of fyn scarlet reed Ful streite yteyd and shoes ful moyste and new" That show that she is vain and materialistic because she has bought new shoes for a pilgrimage and red stockings which would be very expensive because to dye clothes bright colours was very expensive in those days. The Knight, however, "Of fustian he wered a gypon/Al bismotered with his habergeon" which is completely the opposite. The Monk is "a lord ful fat and in good poynt"; he is indulgent; the fact that The Monk likes to eat swan also suggests that he is indulgent, not what a monk should be. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Knight she is on the pilgrimage for materialistic reasons whereas the Knight, like the Parson, is on the pilgrimage for authentic religious reasons. The Monk could be on the pilgrimage to socialise or it could be a reason to get out of the cloistered of the monastery; neither of which are holy reasons. In conclusion I believe that the Knight is the only person, along with the Parson, who is on the pilgrimage for the right reasons. The Knight is on the pilgrimage to give thanks to God and he dedicates his time to those who are in need. On the other hand The Monk is on the pilgrimage for one of two reasons, either to socialise with other people or just to get out of the monastery. This reflects the view at the time that the Church was corrupt and rich. The Wife of Bath is on the pilgrimage for vain and materialistic reasons the most likely reasons are either to show off her wealth or to find another husband. This reflects the position of women because could not go out and live on their own they needed the support of a husband or a father. Peter Redmond 4AC 4E3 ...read more.

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