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GCSE: Geoffrey Chaucer

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 4
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  1. In what ways does the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale explore issues of power and authority?

    As I will explore later the wife uses some rhetorical methods to explain her points of authority in what she is saying,. Therefore she seems predominantly to be a very honest person, with her revelations of gaining power over her first three husbands through emotional blackmail, sex, and the provocation of their guilt. This said, her account reveals a discrepancy between what we suspect to truth and what she says to her audience so that they can base their opinion of her, and although she does characterise herself more fully than any other pilgrim, one could argue that her sometimes confused nature and lack of coherence makes her self-portrait less plausible.

    • Word count: 2006
  2. Compare and Contrast the characters of Absolon and Nicholas and assess their contribution to the comedy of the fabliau genre in The Miller's Tale

    However it is the specific type of humour that identifies itself with the genre. A strong sense of mockery and repartee are made towards often-defenceless characters and personality traits. The superstitious, ingenuous, kind-hearted and above all foolish are treated with ridicule and derision. Within The Miller's Tale, we see that John the carpenter for example is cruelly mocked and deceived for his gullible actions. The narrator constantly rebukes the character for his ignorance (both of Cato and of common sense) and for his pride in this "blessed be alwey a lewed man." A 'bawdy' and amoral quality is also characteristic of the fabliau humour.

    • Word count: 2538
  3. The Miller's Tale: Lines 364-489

    This idea is continued throughout the poem when Nicholas is talking about all the different aspects of the plan. Nicholas is also portrayed as being patronising and manipulative. He does not simply tell the story of 'what happened to him' and hope that John will believe him, but he says "I wol nat lie". In the same way, Nicholas makes the whole plan worse by flattering John "John myn hooste, life and deere". Nicholas is manipulating John into believing him using flattery however this simply portrays Nicholas as being crueler as he is telling John that he is "deere" yet wishes to humiliate him.

    • Word count: 2163
  4. How Does Chaucer Present The Miller To Become Such A Vivid And Vibrant Character

    In the church a parish clerk called Absolon falls in love with Alisoun. He tries to woo her over by giving her presents and money. As Nicholas lives in the same house as Alisoun she isn't interested in Absolon. Nicholas hatches a plan to get rid of the carpenter; therefore he can spend the night with Alisoun without disturbances. Nicholas pretends to be ill and stays in his room for two days. The servant reports to the carpenter that Nicholas is acting strangely as if he's seen a new moon. Nicholas convinces the carpenter that God has appeared to him, telling him that a flood of Biblical proportions is imminent.

    • Word count: 2629
  5. Discuss how at least three authors during the mid to late Nineteenth Century explore conflict within the family. What are the family conflicts caused by? What are the results of the conflict?

    Joanna gets really jealous, "Green envy had overspread Joanna at the scene." She manipulates him into being with her although she does not love him. Emily accepts this as she is a very kind-hearted person. Joanna and Shadrach's marriage is filled with conflict as Joanna wanted more money than Shadrach could possess. She is jealous of Emily as she is married to a rich merchant and her wealth is rising while Joanna's family is poor and her business fails badly.

    • Word count: 2303
  6. Chaucer: Satire And Humor

    It is the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales that serves to establish firmly the framework for the entire story- collection: the pilgrimage that turns into a tale-telling competition. Since The Prologue begins the story, it is only fit that it contains the most humor and satire. The Prologue begins with the Knight. In Chaucer's description of the Knight, he describes him as being the perfect being. He's tall, handsome, brave, and he has won many battles. He has traveled to many places because Chaucer tells us that he has fought in Prussia, Lithuania, Russia, Spain, North Africa, and Turkey (Chaucer 3).

    • Word count: 2703
  7. "What do the first 149 lines of the Merchant's prologue and Tale tell us about marriage and women?"

    Subsequently through this ceremony women gained the status of domestic animals characterised by unquestionable obedience to male command. This era had demanding expectations of women which echoed the misogynistic. Before the audience are introduced to the Merchant a depiction of his character is portrayed through Chaucer's prologue (273-285). The 'Marchant' emerges as a confident, 'hye on his horse he sat' and pompous character, but contains qualities of distrust and mystery. The audience receives an impressively dressed character 'boots clasped faire and fetisly', suggesting an element of wealth, in order to afford current trends of the period.

    • Word count: 2420
  8. How do the Canterbury Tales explore the idea of gender? Discuss with reference to two of Chaucer's Tales

    We can assume that the Miller would associate himself with Nicolas, the scholar lodging with an older married man and his young wife. He uses his wit and intelligence and is described by Chaucer as 'heende' and ambiguous word with positive meanings such as nice, noble or gracious. He tricks the John the carpenter, a meek, asinine man in order to have an affair with his wife Alisoun, a well dressed and pampered woman, who verges on vanity. Nicolas encourages Alisoun to be unfaithful because he can; he uses the traditions of Courtly Love to woo her but in an aggressive and bawdy manner, taking what he wants by literally grabbing her genitals.

    • Word count: 2311
  9. Ethan Frome is characterised by

    It foresees that he will soon be stripped of all his power and violently deprived of his dignity - Ethan looks as he is "dead and in hell". It seems Ethan Frome's destiny is to become "bleak and unapproachable". Indeed, the prologue shows the future Frome in "distress" and "oppression", further suggesting that something will ruin his life. All this impending disaster and the suffering that will inevitably follow, is shown in the prologue, establishes the tragic mood and bleak atmosphere.

    • Word count: 2529
  10. The Merchant's Tale -summary

    The Merchant is not interested in the actual worth of his items, but what they will bring him in return, much like Januarie who "shops" for his bride: Many fair shap and many a fair visage Ther passeth thurgh a mirour, polisshed bryght, And sette it in a commune market-place, Thanne sholde he se ful many a figure pace By his mirour (ll. 1577-85.) These lines provide textual proof that January is connected to the Merchant since he appraises May before buying her.

    • Word count: 2623
  11. It is impossible to feel either sympathy or admiration for any of the characters in 'The Miller's Tale'. Discuss.

    Though the reader is expectant of a carpenter to be the butt of the Tale, it is noticeable that the character of John is criticised more for being foolish and uneducated by the Miller, than as a representative of his craft. John, from the outset, is conveyed as both old and uneducated, and therefore by implication, stupid. The Miller criticises John for marrying unwisely, and claims that although he "knew nat Catoun", his common sense should have prevailed and caused him to realise his marriage was ill fated from the beginning.

    • Word count: 2766
  12. Restoration comedy - William Wycherley`s "The Country Wife"

    The set, white and mobile, presented a canvas for the brightly attired actors and made the performance practically addictive. It sped along with such swiftness that it didn`t betray its length, a rather sore three hours. The characters themselves were a gaggle of camp, hammed up imbeciles, the portrayal of which created the hilarity of the performance. Sparkish (Crispin Redman), in particular, tickled the audience with his foppish stupidity and tin tin hairstyle. The big names Robinson and Crowe tackled the comedy effortlessly, transporting the sexual innuendo across the centuries as if the Restoration had been last week.

    • Word count: 2005
  13. Discuss Chaucer's comic method in the Miller's Prologue and Tale. Combine your personal response with reference to other critical opinion at relevent points in your argument.

    Dissatisfied with presenting us with the bare fact, Chaucer dedicates 40 lines to an elaborate description of Alisoun, in order to emphasise just how attractive she is. As Mc Daniel says, 'She is described in terms of a wily weasel, a vixen, a young calf; animalistic terms that emphasize her youthful sensuality'. By informing us of her 'likerous ye', Chaucer establishes that she is unlikely to resist the advances made on her by other men. This first part of the Miller's Tale is simply to set the foundations for what is to come.

    • Word count: 2344
  14. The Canterbury Tales is more than a collection of stories, many of them taken from popular folk tales or existing stories in other languages.

    Members of the Catholic clergy were financially, politically and socially corrupt. Each of these corruptions made up the enormous religious corruption that was the logical result of such debauchery. For a common man there were the routine church services, held daily and attended at least once a week, and the special festivals of Christmas, Easter, baptisms, and marriages. In that respect the medieval Church was no different to the modern one. There also were the tithes that the Church collected, usually once a year. Tithes were used to feed the parish priest, maintain the church and to help the poor.

    • Word count: 2006
  15. With reference to at least two pre-twentieth century stories, describe the portrayal of women.

    This quote shows that without a husband, her life is a struggle. She has been left with a farm which she does not know how to run, with dying animals, and with no money whatsoever. The fact that she was expecting another child meant that her life would have been full of fear of not having enough money to be able to support her and her family. I can see that she is desperate from when her sister comes over and together they, 'planned and plotted how to make every penny they could raise go as far as possible.'

    • Word count: 2395
  16. What is established in the opening to the 'Turn of the Screw' by Henry James and how is it effective as a basis to a ghost story?

    We would also expect tension to be created because this makes us want to read on. The Turn of the Screw is in some ways typical of an opening to a ghost story written in the eighteen hundreds because the style is complex: for the first sentence, which is long, dense and contains four conjunctions. This however suits the Turn of the Screw because it mirrors the complexity of the story. Similarly the Turn of the Screw is typical of an opening to a ghost story because atmosphere is created.

    • Word count: 2201
  17. What makes these chosen stories Thrillers?

    Miriam then starts arriving on Mrs Miller's doorstep, and begins to start tormenting Mrs Miller. Miriam asks for various items, Mrs Miller the next day gets the items with no control over herself; an old man also follows her when she is out shopping. And once again Miriam arrives, even though Mrs Miller does not want to let Miriam in, she ends up doing so. Miriam makes Mrs Miller so angry and frustrated that runs to the apartment a landing below, and speaks to a couple about her predicament.

    • Word count: 2663
  18. How does the tale of the Merchant reflect the character of the Merchant himself?

    Each of these three relationships to the 'Clerk's Tale' can act as a springboard for one of the many readings that can be done of the 'Merchant's Tale'. However, for the present purposes, it must suffice to demonstrate that the tale the Merchant tells very much describes a world of commercial transaction, even in a situation in which exchange is apparently inappropriate, and that this description to some extent implies - if not defines - the Merchant's engagement with such a world.

    • Word count: 2398
  19. How do the Canterbury Tales represent female desires?

    It was therefore a legal, property transaction and would consolidate an estate. As weddings were based upon the families' monetary gain the families arranged them and often underage girls would be married off in this way. It was not uncommon for children of eight years old to be married in this way. The second of the main functions for marriage in the medieval age was quite simply to produce a healthy supply of good Catholics, keeping the Churches full. The third and most extraordinary purpose for marriage was that men were not expected to keep their carnal desires under control.

    • Word count: 2241
  20. Did Attitudes Towards the Status of Women and Marriage Change in the Late- Middle Ages?

    However condemnation of females was not only confined to the Christian Church, as we know it today. Constantine, who established the progressive 'Christainisation' of the empire, discovered small yet troubled heresies among which was one called Gnostics. They believed that the created world was inferior to the spiritual one and as women are the creators in our world they were therefore automatically lesser in the eyes of the lord. Many Gnostic sets wished to discard the reproducing purposes of women and also believed that marriage was sent from the Devil.

    • Word count: 2423
  21. Although the Millers Tale was written over 600 years ago, we still find it funny, why?

    and how he is completely oblivious to what Alison and Nicholas are doing while he is in the roof building the boat. Another example of John's stupidity is that instead of trying to find out about Nicholas and Alison, he tries to help Nicholas because he is becoming concerned that he spends all his time in his room which is ironic because Nicholas is actually plotting a way to win Alison (John's wife) over. On line 354 John actually feels sorry for Nicholas 'Me reweth soore of hende Nicholas'.

    • Word count: 2187
  22. 'One of the best short stories in English.' Discuss Chaucer's narrative skills as shown in the Pardoner's Tale in light of this comment.

    The importance of the narrator is reflected in the relative unimportance of the characters in the story. The three rioters are anonymous hoodlums to whom the narrator gives no distinctive characteristics. The one distinction that the Pardoner makes among the three is that the rioter who is sent for food and drink is younger than the other two. Their characteristics are uniformly negative, but relatively broad they are avaricious, but also drunkards and murderers, which gives the Pardoner opportunity to condemn a vast array of sins.

    • Word count: 2164
  23. "The pilgrims summarise the noblest ideals and the basest practises" Discuss this statement.

    Unlike with the other portraits, Chaucer gives us no physical description of the Knight, perhaps so that we are not distracted from his noble deeds. He does however allow us insight into the Knights character through his description of his clothing. "His hors were good," usually an indication of wealth but here the mention of a fine breed of horse is not given to connote riches but that he is a good Knight, ensuring the tools of his trade are of the finest quality.

    • Word count: 2423
  24. In this essay I am examining the three short stories "Turned" written by Charlotte Perkins Gillman in 1911, "To Please His Wife" by Thomas Hardy in 1891 and "An Alpine Divorce" by Robert Barr in 1887.

    While going on business trip Mr. Marroner told the girl Gerta '' Be good to your mistress, Gerta... I leave her to you to take care of. I shall be back in a month at latest''. Mrs. Marroner was deeply involved in her academic activity and Mr. Marroner was busy with his business. The initial reaction of Mrs. Marroner towards Greta was negative like any other traditional woman. She asked the poor girl "please pack your things to get out...." But her final decision was greatest and very progressive. Mrs. Marroner analysed the problem with her intellectual wisdom.

    • Word count: 2410
  25. The Marriage Debate.

    The Wife of Bath's Prologue gives an account of her marrying four elderly men for their money and then, when she is forty, her teenage apprentice for love. Her Tale suggests that only when the wife has the 'maistry', can a marriage be happy. The Clerk's Tale on the other hand is an account of an overbearing husband, who subjects his young wife to indignities in order to prove her love for him, and magnanimously and patronisingly takes her back, when he finds she is truly obedient.

    • Word count: 2840

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Compare and Contrast Chaucer’s Presentation of the Monk and the Pardoner

    "In conclusion the actions and priorites are the only part of the Monk that are saterised, but the Pardoner is saterised for his whole way of life. Perhaps it is worth bearing in mind that out of the four pilgrims who work for the church only the Parson is praised for his work, this could be Chaucer's way of saying that he think the churches method of selecting workers is flawed."

  • Miller's Tale - Analyse the narrative structure of the tale and the effectiveness of its ending.

    "Overall the conclusion to the Miller's Tale makes the two men look thoroughly ridiculous and humiliated; Alisoun appears to get away with her crimes and comes away looking as 'clean as a whistle'. But the audience has seen every dark side to her character. The readers' interest is carefully maintained through a mixture of comedy, shocks, courtly love and ironic twists throughout the Tale. Chaucer makes the reader feel superior to the characters who seem somewhat disillusioned in their pathetic plight to get what they want without paying for the consequences. Nicholas and Alisoun plot to deceive the foolish carpenter of their nefarious doings. Absolon is blinded by his love for Alisoun, who cares nothing for him and constantly makes cruel jokes of him. All these elements help captivate the reader and pull them deep into the personalities of the characters. I noticed that infidelity seems to run prominently as the main theme throughout the tale. There are many more themes such as love, revenge and humour which all seem equally as important. I feel that the main point of the story is that actions have consequences, something the characters did not seem to grasp until everything around them began to fall apart. Stephen Blighe 5/2/2007 AS English Language and Literature"

  • Discuss how at least three authors during the mid to late Nineteenth Century explore conflict within the family. What are the family conflicts caused by? What are the results of the conflict?

    "Conclusion In the three short stories, the conflicts had been caused by marriage, fuelled by wealth to end up as disaster. The main reasons behind the conflicts are often over money problems and jealousy. The ending of "The Half-Brothers" seemed more tragic compared to the other two stories as it was an extremely emotional and symbolic story. This results in the sympathetic attitude of the reader towards this character. Similarly, all three of these stories ended in a sad dramatic way and they were all set around the same time. This may suggest that during that time period, it involved a lot of conflicts."

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