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AS and A Level: Geoffrey Chaucer
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Common errors when writing about 'The Canterbury Tales'
- 1 Failing to consider language and form as well as the content.
- 2 Applying modern views and standards to a 14th century text. For example, modern attitudes to gender relationships and marriage can conflict with attitudes at the time of writing.
Failing to demonstrate appropriate historical/contextual knowledge about:
Religious beliefs and practices,
Class and hierarchical structure,
Social relationships between men and women.
Key terms to use when writing about Chaucer's verse. Ensure you know what they mean!
- 1 Middle English.
- 2 Rhythmic variety.
- 3 Decasyllables.
- 4 Caesura.
- 5 Rhetoric.
The best essays on 'The Canterbury Tales' are able to give a precise description of all of these kinds of humour
- 1 Farce.
- 2 Bawdy.
- 3 Irony.
- 4 Slapstick.
- 5 Satire.
- Marked by Teachers essays 2
In the Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner is the cynical but authoritative voice of truth at its most foul. If a man is clever and perceptive -- if he is not prone to self-delusion, if he has keen insight into himself, into others and into human nature -- then that man will have an ability to manipulate and exploit others -- that is, a consequent temptation to be villainous - that dimmer bulbs will lack. In blunt terms: knowledge is power, and power corrupts.
- Word count: 1056
Concerning an answer to the question, it is also important to address the relationship between Januarie and May, and the following 'cuckolding'. Is it more a cynical attack on adultery than that of marriage? The fundamental basis for investigating the status of marriage in The Merchant's Tale is to address the initial opinion of the merchant in the Prologue, and the subsequent irony at the beginning of the Tale. Chaucer directs the poem through the narration of the merchant, who has a clear cynical attitude towards his wife (in reaction to The Clerk's Tale and patient Griselda), though not overly
- Word count: 1689
With reference to lines 91-112 and 163-290, how are the rivals Nicholas and Absalon presented to us by Chaucer in this section? Focus on Chaucer(TM)s use of language and detail to present this contrast?
In contrast, Absalon's looks and clothes are described in great detail to portray his vanity and flamboyancy. His 'Poules window corven on his shoes' draws focus to the intricate details of his appearance so that the reader is required to take into account Absalon's intense care for his looks. His curly blonde hair is fashioned into an extravagant fan shape; 'strouted as a fanne large and brode' that displays his desire to keep up with the fashion, and the blonde curls create a sense of childlike innocence. His clothing also supports his flamboyancy, 'Ycald he was ful smal and proprely' with red stocking, a blue tunic which was lavishly fastened.
- Word count: 1614
We see him challenging those whom have power during the tale by striking out against The Church. We see the preparation for this disregard of The Church's authority in the prologue for it is in front of the monk, a member of the group, that the Miller speaks. This is showing great disrespect for as a religious figure the monk would be seen as the Miler's superior. This can relate to how the only member of the clergy in the tale is one who is thought of as inferior to everyone else. It would be thought of as disrespectful towards the monk top tell his tale, not only for the acts which take place but also because of the creation of Absolon.
- Word count: 1294
Absolon's biblical namesake also was proud of his hair and he to is shown to be a fool. It was because of his vanity and need to have long hair that Absolon's namesake was killed. I sense that there is a connection which can be established in the downfall of these characters and their vanity. Absolon is mocked because of his hair and attention to detail in his appearance and therefore he is not taken seriously ending in his final embarrassment at the window.
- Word count: 1027
Chaucer creates humour by satirising values in religious and courtly love. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
The sense of competition brought about by this love causes them to hate each other. They eventually get let out of prison and fight each other to win the girl. Arcite wins the battle, but dies before he can claim Emily, so Palamon marries her. The story introduces many typical aspects of knighthood such as courtly love and ethical dilemmas. The Merchant's Tale begins with a description of Januarie who is presented, satirically, as "A worthy knight". The Merchant however attempts to display to the audience that this knight is not worthy at all. He contrasts him to the knights in The Knight's Tale.
- Word count: 1885
his wife despite promise "his owene hand he made ladders thre" p46 Ironic brings about his own downfall "he sente his knave and eek his wenche also, upon his need to London"p47 Unsympathetic believes he is leaving his servants to die He was holde wood in al the toun"p53 Idiom destroyed his reputation Alisoun "Fair was this younge wyf and therewithal as any wezele hir body gent and small"p34 Parody of a courtly lover in a romance has a lyrical quality bathos "Ful smale ypulled were hire browes two"p34 Cynicism and satire in courtly romances a woman was perfect "She
- Word count: 1800
This could be seen as a comment upon the perception of clerks as being far more honest than merchants in Chaucerian society - despite Walter's great deception of his wife when hiding their two children from her, he is still presented in a positive, honest light throughout the tale. This reinforces his credibility as a character, which has the effect of the Clerk being able to present his views on marriage very clearly through the protagonist. It is vitally important that both tales are set in Lombardy, though the setting is very different in both tales.
- Word count: 1411
It was, in theory, a chaste pursuit, and not for sexual purposes; Aurelius clearly sees it differently. The brave and foolhardy deeds to the whim of the lady then continue until she shows some form of concern or pity toward the young man; then, there is supposed to be a secret, painful passion between the two, and they get married unless she is already married; if this is the case, the love should be static and unrequited so as not to disrupt the marriage.
- Word count: 1230
For example, she quotes, " Oon of us two moste bowen, douteles;, And sith a man is moore reasonableThan woman is, ye moste been suffrable." (lines 440-2) She makes her husbands give in to her by saying that their "superior" male nature should make them give up the fight more easily. She therefore wins by exploiting all the stereotypes about women. Of course, this argument shows the wife at her cleverest. Like Gilbert and Gubar, my first impression of the wife is that she is a clever and independent woman, whose tricks and schemes have already got her through five marriages.
- Word count: 1413
they are wise possibly shows the Merchant either understanding why a man would want to marry or it could be him again being very sarcastic. Januarie the central character of the tale, calls his friends to him in line 187 onwards, in order to tell them that he has decided that, because he is 'hoor and oold', it is time for him to marry. He wants to find a girl who 'shal nat passe twenty yeer' and he wants her in order to fulfil his sexual desires.
- Word count: 1829
The franklins tale raises issues about what it really means to be "noble" Consider how this tale forms an examination of the values that held medieval society together and how this is subtly questioned by Chaucer.
Gentillesse was a code of behavior associated with the noble class. This included a number of qualities. Generosity, chivalrous or gentlemanly deeds, bravery, social graces, delicacy of feelings, integrity and many others. A man could appear to be genteel by wearing expensive clothes and possessed the qualities of the noble class. However, he would never be officially genteel or noble if he was not born into it. A man who was stupid, lazy, and poor and chose not to fight would still have been considered genteel and noble and could wear a coat of arms just from his heriditory.
- Word count: 1753
This shows he is not a honourable monk that does not want to worship god. The monk is very greedy and self-absorbed he is there just for the money; he does not care about serving the world "Let Austyn have his swynk to hym reserved". The monk is extremely self indulgent because as a religious person he should dedicate his life to god and his people. However, we can clearly see that this monk has not because his duties include praying but he does not seem to take any pride in that because he is always busy riding his horses.
- Word count: 1520
Paying close attention to the passage, comment on what insights this offers into the Pardoner's concerns and methods - (The Pardoner's Prologue, lines 141-176).
We can see this from how he boasts "kan I maken oother folk to twynne/ From avarice, and soore to repente" and "A moral tale yet I yow tell kan,/ Which I am wont to preche". Thus, we see that the Pardoner does not see the seriousness of his sins, and furthermore feels that he is very successful in his job because he is skilful and experienced in performing. His skill and experience is later shown again when he says "For lewed peple loven tales olde;/ Swiche thinges kan they wel reporte and holde".
- Word count: 1005
240), we can take it to mean that he spends very much time drinking, flirting and socialising in pubs. The Friar is superseded to be a holy man, but we see that he knew the landlords and barmaids much better than the people he has meant to be consoling, praying for and helping out of the vicious circle of poverty. Chaucer the pilgrim explains how impressive the Friar's generous charity is and has respect for the way he marries off young girls with suitable husbands and pays for the ceremony. However, he neglects to mention that the only reason the Friar does this is because he has illegitimately gotten them pregnant in clandestine, despite claiming to be celibate.
- Word count: 1296
He could be trying to convince the pilgrims that he is a priest as well as showing off by using Latin words in his speech. The Pardoner is a living example of not practising what he preaches as his main motivation is greed and not the well being of the people he preaches to. "A lecherous thing is wyn, and dronkenesse Is ful of striving and of wrecchednesse. O dronke man, disfigured is thy face, Sour is thy breeth, foul artow to embrace."
- Word count: 1826
is used to emphasize the ridicule of the wife of Bath in whom Chaucer satirizes. An example of this is found in lines 706-710 where the wife of Bath is implying that mature scholars unable to hold an erection anymore write ?tell-tale? attacks against women at the bitterness of their impotence. It is possible that she may be indirecting Jankin?s future with her as he himself is indeed a scholar. She says ?Therefore no woman of no clerk is preysed. The clerk, when he is oold and may nought do, of Venus werkes worth his olde sho, Thanne sit he down and writ in his dotage That women kan nat kepe hir marriage.? This is
- Word count: 1032
Their undifferentiated personalities and unquestioned loyalty to one another form the original strong and stable foundation of the triangle. Palamon and Arcite?s first vision of Emily instantly creates the third point of the love triangle and completely restructures the geometry of the story. This love at first sight brings a new dimensionality to the relationship and individuality of Arcite and Palamon. Emily represents the object of desire and at first the cousins appear to relate to her in a virtually identical manner. But on a closer reading, a subtle distinction between them is already evident. Palamon, who was the first to spy Emily, accuses Arcite of having a ?mystical?holy love? for Emily as opposed to his own love for
- Word count: 1140