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Comedy in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: ‘Moral’ Pilgrims and the Stories They Tell

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Government Relations
Level
Advanced
Study
literature
School/University
Washington...

About the document

Published date
Language
documents in English
Format
Word
Type
presentations
Pages
6 pages
Level
Advanced
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  1. Introduction
  2. The fabliau plot in the Miller's tale
  3. The lover's role
  4. Nicholas' alleged astrological education
  5. The two clerks seeking lodging in the miller's house
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

Viewed in a certain light, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales offers a realistic slice of life from a diverse cross section of fourteenth century English society. Represented among the travelers are members of all three estates, the church, nobility and peasantry, as well as the middle class, bourgeoisie, and various professionals . Yet, upon close reading of the tales, one sees that life as these medievals would have lived is warped when read through Chaucer's lens. In the Miller's Tale and the Reeve's Tale, sentiments of piety one would expect of a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury are nowhere to be found; rather, the prevailing attitude of the characters within these two tales is one of total amorality. As Derek Pearsall argues, In religious tales and saints' legends, [a] self-transcending system of values operates, in this case proving the significance of life through the demonstration of its ultimate insignificance in relation to life eternal. Comedy sets all this aside, and asserts that there are no values, secular or religious, more important than survival and the satisfaction of appetite.

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