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Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

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Introduction

Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories in the framing of a pilgrimage of 30 or so pilgrims, ranging in status - a distorted microcosm of the 14th century English society. Using from gentle to scathing satire, he comments on the Catholic Church as one of the most powerful elements in medieval society and its abuse of authority. The portraits of the Prioresse and the Pardoner reflect the corruption in the institutions of the Church and its people. PRIORESSE The Prioresse is one of the most fully described pilgrims in the General Prologue, with gentle satire. Being everything a nun should not be, she is guilty of the sin of vanity and worldly indulgences as well as the exploitation of sexuality and beauty. Her virginity is seen as an object of attractiveness, since during this time period, chastity is valued more than marriage. Her courtly manners and inappropriate sophistication is emphasized by the use of French words such as "pleasaunt" and "charitable and pitous". ...read more.

Middle

Chaucer concludes the Prioresse's portrait without any reference to her religious duties, with her brooch that says "Amor vincit omnia" meaning "Love conquers all" - Something completely inappropriate for a nun. PARDONER Chaucer uses harsh satire in the description of the portrait of the Pardoner. As the last portrait and most significant, he reflects the corruption of the Catholic Church and the inadequacy of its people as one of the grotesque figures of the church, the other being the Summoner. Pardoners sold indulgences, where a person could lift their sins from penance in exchange for money. In the 14th century, the practices of Pardoners became increasingly under criticism. The imagery used for the description of the Pardoner is seen as grotesque and repelling. He has yellow wax stringy hair that hangs thin and greasy, his "glarynege eyen hadde he as an hare" and his ridiculous pretensions to wear the latest fashion. ...read more.

Conclusion

The other girls follow her represent the sheep mentality, when the individuals follow the mass. Self interest. Mary Warren eventually turns against Proctor, under so much pressure. Represents the individuals in McCarthyism who buckle underneath the pressures of authority and the theocracy, including those who accused inorder to be saved as well as those who submit out of fear and self preservation and those who take advantage, manipulte assertiveness. The last scene, Proctor signing the paper. Theocracy has enough power to surpress him, make him submit. Again the same example of the majority of the the nature of the population in such a situation, however, his later defiance to authority, represents the individuals who stood up and against the McCarthy era. Concludes, the purging process seperates the heroic individuals, matyrs, Proctor Nurse and those who hanged, the individuals who submit to the authority and those who gain and abuse it. The dramatic scene where Proctor signs the paper to confess: Biggest irony: after 300 hundred years, is that although humanity has progressed 300 hundred years, human nature has not changed. ...read more.

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