Analysis of Characters of Chaucer and Austen

Topics: Social class, Working class, Jane Austen Pages: 3 (1114 words) Published: December 2, 2012
How Characters Reflect their Respective Time Periods: An Analysis of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice Many authors comment on the society of their respective times through their writing. Geoffrey Chaucer and Jane Austen both use stereotypes of their times to reflect the society of that era. Chaucer lived during a time when the clergy was corrupt and stole from the hardworking, honest, peasant farmers (known as the Late Middle Ages*). In contrast, during the Hanoverian period during which Austen lived, society was based on the material possessions of an individual (or their future inheritance), family connections, and marriage. Chaucer outlines his time period through his characters: the church body through the Friar, and the working class through the Plowman. Likewise, Austen uses her protagonist, Mrs. Bennet, to mock how people of her own social class behaved during her era. Chaucer uses the Friar to demonstrate the immoral nature of the church during his time. One of the groups of people that Chaucer satirizes is the clergy. Amongst them, he attacks the character of the Friar as corrupt and dishonest. Historical evidence shows that friars were more often than not very corrupt and schemed to obtain worldly goods such as money. Many friars “came under wider criticism for worldliness and immorality” (Christianity…). They acted as if they had no money, but were in actuality living a fairly luxurious life. Chaucer compares the coat of Hubert, the Friar, to that of “a lord or like a pope. Of double worsted was his semi-cope” (Chaucer 8). Hubert was also “rounded like a bell”, indicating that he had enough food to eat, and did not necessarily have to beg for sustenance (8). Once at the house of a crippled man, the Friar asks for food. "Now, dame," said he then, "je vous dis, sans doute,

Had I of a fat capon but the liver,
And of your soft white bread naught but a sliver,
And after that a pig's head well roasted
(Save that I...
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