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

Merchant; Franklin; Sergeant of the Law. For each of these characters analyse how Chaucer presents them as representatives of the new bourgeoisie. To what extent are they presented simply as representatives of their class, rather than individual?

Extracts from this document...


Merchant; Franklin; Sergeant of the Law. For each of these characters analyse how Chaucer presents them as representatives of the new bourgeoisie. To what extent are they presented simply as representatives of their class, rather than individual? The Merchant is the first representative of the third estate - those who worked. His description is opened with four lines on his appearance; it is doubtful that attributes such as "a forked beard" were particularly considered traits of the new middle class, which implies the Merchant exists as an individual. The opposing argument, however, starts in the same place; his "faire and fetisly" buckled boots are a sign of the relative prosperity which the new class enjoyed, whilst his most distinguishing aesthetic feature could be said to be the "Flaudnryssh bever hat" - a direct product of his occupation, and his business links with Holland. This would indicate that he is less of a person (with a personality) and more of a representative of his class. Concentrating now on his speech, of which the next four lines are concerned, everything he discusses is to do with his work. This can be interpreted in one of at least two ways; either that he is a particularly work-obsessed individual, or that in creating an archetype, there is nothing else to this character for him to discuss; he is two dimensional. ...read more.


According to the Alexanders, Sergeants of Law were criticised "for their purchase of lands previously given by the king for services rendered". This is an important point; for if the text is read taking that for granted, then Chaucer's tone takes on a far more satirical and mocking tone - and nothing is easier to mock than a stereotype. "So greet a purchasour was nowher noon" says Chaucer of the Sergeant - if taken at face value, a positive remark on the success of the lawyer in his profession, but if taken in the context provided by the Alexanders, then it acts as an indictment of the lawyer's practice - and as such of all lawyer's practice. A far stronger argument can be made for the Sergeant of Law having a character of his own than can for the Merchant - for example, this lawyer knows "every statut...pleyn by rote" (knows every statute by heart). This is, if taken literally, not only quite an achievement for anyone, but also quite a distinctive feature of a person. There are precise dates of the legal battles he knows of - all since William the Conqueror. There is, of course, a flip side to this. If we take it not literally, but as a prime example of Chaucerian hyperbole, then this quite distinctive lawyer, with particular traits, becomes every lawyer - especially from the point of view of the reader, to whom it probably seems as if every lawyer knows everything about everything. ...read more.


Of the Franklin's 29 lines, only two are expended on his work, whilst a whopping twenty are used to portray his home life. In order to add yet more depth to him, the thirteen of these lines are concerning food - this gives him a sort of motif, a humorous element that we can relate to. Whereas it could simply state that he was rich, and give examples, Chaucer's description tells us how his money is spent, how he is "Epicurus' owene sone", he loves pleasure and delights in being a host. I believe this evidence is by far enough for us to see the Franklin as a true character as opposed to a stereotype of his class. Apart from anything else, far too much time is spent describing his particular personality traits, whilst very little time is spent on his career. The question is difficult to answer with any certitude, as a case can be made for every character in the general prologue being a stereotype; a representative of his or her own class. Each character has their own traits; the evidence presented here points to the Merchant and the Sergeant of the Law being examples of an archetype, but the Franklin being a very real seeming person. Adding to the difficultly is the contextual difficulties - having not been around in the fourteenth century, it is difficult to say how well the portrait of the Franklin fits in with what would be "normal" for a Franklin. Jeremy Pierce 13HJB ...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 Geoffrey Chaucer 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 Geoffrey Chaucer essays

  1. How does the tale of the Merchant reflect the character of the Merchant himself?

    This attitude can be understood as characteristic of both the nobility to which the knight belongs and the fourteenth-century merchant class in the business of consolidating wealth - yet another indirect identification with the Merchant and his character. Moreover the description of a wife as the fruit of her husband's

  2. Remind yourself of the portrait of the Franklin and his prologue and discuss the ...

    The metaphor "It snewed in his hous of mete and drinke" creates Christmas imagery and emphasises the extensive amounts of food available at that time of year. The fact that his supply was so plentiful acknowledges the fact that he is a man of wealth.

  1. "The merchant's tale presents a thoroughly cynical view of women and marriage" How far ...

    The merchant is cynical of women in the Bible as well as the Greek goddess Proserpine and Griselda in the initial outburst of the merchant. Pluto tells his wife of her 'untrouthe and brotilnesse'. The tale concentrates on women who have been unfaithful to their husbands such like Rebekka and

  2. "In The Merchant's Prologue and Tale Chaucer presents a world dominated by money and ...

    Januarie buys Maye for Heaven on Earth "So delicat, withouten wo and stryf, That I shal havemyn hevene in erthe heere", he is not only interested in her as a sexual object but what she will be bring and what she is worth.

  1. It is impossible to feel either sympathy or admiration for any of the characters ...

    in his wooing of Alison, through the detail of his plan and his gulling of John. One can admire Nicholas's wooing techniques, though admittedly crude, as he manages to get the girl in spite of having competition. Chaucer implores the reader to appreciate Nicholas's role and to join him in

  2. Solomon: World Class Ruler or Poor King?

    The author of such comments is installing the greatness of their state into the listeners. The authors of 1 Kings 1-11 are exaggerating the wealth and splendor of Solomon to promote the ideological greatness of Solomon's rule. "The description of Solomonic trade is related to this symbolic role of the capital as centre.

  1. What is established in the opening to the 'Turn of the Screw' by Henry ...

    By contrast, the tension built up in the prologue to Turn of the Screw is in some ways very untypical of an opening to a ghost story because it also creates tension by using the delay technique.

  2. How is the character Dora presented in the first four chapters of The Bell?

    She does this despite better instincts and concern that other passengers 'would think her silly'. Even after the rescue of the butterfly from the jungle of feet, she is conscious of its well being, knowing it will be killed by 'the whirlwind of the train' if she puts it out the window.

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