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

Evaluate Chaucer's use of irony in the presentation of 'Courtly Love'

Extracts from this document...


Evaluate Chaucer's use of irony in the presentation of 'Courtly Love'. The term Courtly love had not existed in the fourteenth century. It was only later coined this in Victorian time, although the concept existed when Chaucer was writing. The idea of courtly love is a literary concept that cannot be applied to real life due to what it entails. It was believed that this type of love is the most powerful and is the defining experience of human existence. Chaucer uses this idea in 'The Merchant's Tale', but inappropriately. He shows the ability for there to be courtly love yet it is not fully carried out. In many circumstances he uses it to create humour in the tale by creating ironic situations and behaviours with the characters. This highlights the problems with the relationships of the Characters within the poem. When we are first introduced to January, he is portrayed to be a rich and noble man, which makes him ideal for courtly love. 'A worthy night, that born was of Pavie, In which he lived in greet prosperitee;' With this limited knowledge on January, it is possible to see that he is an apt person to be involved in courtly love. ...read more.


Although January and May are shown to not have courtly love, we are shown another character that has the possibility of being a courtly lover. 'Almoost he swelte and swowned ther he stood,' The use of hyperbole highlights the idea of the character, Damien, being appropriate as a courtly lover for May. It is dramatic and are typical symptoms that lead to a form of typical courtly love and then brings the readers attention to the fact that we could be seeing the formation of a new, more apt, 'courtly love' relationship. The audience is then expecting Damien's next reaction to be one that follows up the feelings he has shown for May at the wedding feast. 'So brenneth that he dieth for desir,... But prively a penner gan he borwe,' Chaucer uses bathos here to add humour to the tale as it is a great anti-climax to the build up of courtly love. It creates irony as we see Damien saying that he would 'deith for desire', this makes the audience believe he will do something in the style of courtly love to show this. He does, however, only borrow a pen to show his love. ...read more.


Chaucer uses courtly love constantly throughout the tale as a theme that leads all the characters to act incorrectly and result in disasters or deception. Although the main characters appear to be courtly lovers, they prove to the reader that they are not by their actions. In the first instance we see a possibility between the knight January and May. This, however, was ruined by the behaviour that January had towards women as he does not see May as his equal in the relationship. We also see the inability of Damien to behave as the courtly lover as his actions lack the bravery required by a courtly lover. These constant incorrect courtly loves in the take creates irony as we see that love has affected their lives negatively in many circumstances. Characters appear foolish and also lose things such as inheritence or self respect by being involved in 'courtly love'. It also was not carried out properly by the characters, creating humour as we see them as being unable to be this typical type of lover. Courtly love is satirised in the tale by Chaucer to aide the parodying of his characters and enables the reader to see the humour in the tale on a serious subject. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Love Poetry 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 GCSE Love Poetry essays

  1. To what extent does Wendy Cope, embody or defy the 'courtly love' tradition?

    This completely reflects the idea of courtly love, where the initial purpose of a poem is to persuade. However, in traditional love poems, pleading and persuasion generally appear in the form of flattery, and in this poem she does not attempt to flatter her lover.

  2. What have you found interesting about the ways Chaucer satirises the code of Courtly ...

    Throughout the tale, religion is mocked for example the use of Noah's Tale so that Alison and Nicholas can commit adultery, just as Courtly Love is satirised. The fact that Chaucer also used religion in the satirising of Courtly Love is again showing that the church should not be taken

  1. Since the beginning of human existence, there has been once practice,

    As time progressed, the modesty of the 18th and 19th centuries gave way to societies less afraid to read about lust, passion and sex. This transition can be seen in poems from the 20th century.

  2. Theory of Knowledge

    and she opens her own door (which then the other side of my head promptly explodes) and I turn the keys in the ignition while putting my face back together. I mean that's never happened before, you know.

  1. Beauty and the Beast- Characters and Plot.

    He doesn't understand "what's there" between Belle and the Beast, which prompts a promise from Mrs. Potts to tell him "when he is older." He villian! The overly muscled and egotistical Gaston, reasons that he is "gorgeous" and that Belle is beautiful, therefore he deserves her as his wife.

  2. The tradition of courtly love - Expressed in the poetry and music of Guillaume ...

    The relationship of the knight and his adored lady became for many the only true measure of honour, justice and morality." These concepts may seem lofty, but, in truth, the impish medieval mentality of those who were not philosophers was merely loftiness in another guise.

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