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The CanterburyTales - A Book Review.

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History of Europe 1000-1500 Book Review 12/3/03 The Canterbury Tales A Book Review The Canterbury Tales is a book written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 1300's. It is a collection of stories, each told by one person on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. It was written in Middle English, which is readable (with practice) by English speakers today, and therefore the literary devices are not lost in translation. The Canterbury Tales provide a rare look into both Medieval society and the Medieval Christian Church. Each tale gives insight into the Medieval world through the eyes of the pilgrim that tells it. This gives us a unique opportunity to observe the Medieval world as perceived by many different people, not just the educated who could write it down. The Canterbury Tales starts with all of the pilgrims going to Canterbury to the shrine of Thomas a Becket. These pilgrims include a Knight, his son the Squire, the Knight's Yeoman, a Prioress, a Second Nun, a Monk, a Friar, a Merchant, a Clerk, a Man of Law, a Franklin, a Weaver, ...read more.


Also, the Knight does not start the story with the main characters of the tale, Arcite and Palamon; instead, he begins at the apex of society, describing the exploits of King Theseus of Athens, working downward until he reaches the less distinguished soldiers. The Knight's Tale adheres to traditional values of honor in which there are strict codes of behavior which one must follow. This code of chivalry is not necessarily polite and decent. In the morality of the tale, Theseus' sudden decision to ransack Thebes to right a wrong is perfectly acceptable as punishment for a transgression against the honor of the dead soldiers. The Miller's Tale, which followed the Knight's Tale, is a fabliau that mocks the Knight's Tale and brings the tale down to lower orders and stripping it of honor and chivalry. Both are tales of romantic love, but the Miller's Tale clearly makes fun of the Knight's Tale and the ideal of chivalry and courtly romantic love. ...read more.


Her prologue and tale show us that women were subordinate to their husbands and their opinions were not respected. The Wife also denounces the Bible and the Church's relentless support of chastity and monogamy, even using passages in the Bible to point out inconsistencies and hypocrisies. The Pardoner's Tale serves to both explore and criticize Medieval Church life. The description of the Pardoner himself offers great insight into Chaucer's view of the Medieval Church. Although on a pilgrimage, the Pardoner admits that he is only in it for the money, and he is described as an extremely morally deformed person, as well as a terrible hypocrite. The Pardoner's tale is about three men who come across a treasure and double cross each other to get a larger portion of the treasure, ultimately resulting in no one getting the treasure. The Pardoner interrupts the end of his tale with a rant against the sin of avarice, and then by condemning the sin, the Pardoner hopes to motivate the travelers to pay the Pardoner to absolve their sins. This demonstrates common distaste for the corruption in the Medieval Church, and foreshadows Church reform down the road. ...read more.

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