Q. Chaucer Combines Objectivity with Sympathy?
Definition of Humour
Humour means that quality of action, speech, and writing which creates amusement. The true form of humour is that which makes one laugh only for the sake of pleasure and enjoyment. It does not hurt one’s feelings nor it pinches or agonizes.
Chaucer’s characteristics as a great Humorist
Chaucer is a great humorist because he loves mankind in spite of its or follies and weaknesses. Even while he gently unmasks the roguery of the knaves, he fees grateful to them as they give him pleasure. There is no malice, spite or animosity in his attitude. His attitude is that of benevolence and tolerance. Even his satire is in the form of tender shafts of irony, which neither hurt nor destroys. Chaucer may be regarded as the first great English humorist because no English literary work before his, reveals humour in the modern sense. His humour does not simply raise a simile but also relieve us from seriousness and gloom. He is a great master of humour and all his writing abound with its rich variety. Masefield Calls him: “a great Renaissance gentleman mocking the Middle Ages”
Chaucer possess all the characteristics of a great humorist. Firstly, he has catholicity and tolerance of spirit which save it from slipping into satire. Secondly, Chaucer has the faculty of humour which is fed by keen and penetrating observation Finally, Chaucer has a healthy interest in this world an in life.
Chaucer’s humour essentially English in Character
Chaucer’s is an essentially English humour, as we see is qualities in the works of great English humorists like Shakespeare and Fielding. It is not the “wit” of the Frenchman. His humour is chiefly concerned with the people and happenings of everyday life as we see in “The Canterbury Tales”. Some of the facts are quite trivial in themselves but become amusing because of the way in which they are told e.g. the Squir’s locks which as if they were laid in press: “ With lokkes cruller, as they were leyed in presse”
Similarly, the hat of the Wife of the Bath weighing 10 lbs. “Hir coverchief ful fine weren ground
I dorste swere they weyeden ten pounds”
The Reeve’s thin legs, the Franklin’s weakness for sharp sauce etc. In these and other instances, we see the comic quality of amused observation.
Chaucer’s humour: Sympathetic and Objective
Chaucer’s humour is without any sting, he is always sympathetic, except in his handling the Monk and the Friar. He makes us appreciate a character even when laughing at it. His humour is not of satirical kind. As compared to the Langland, who attacks the Church with keen and telling thrust, Chaucer exposes the corruption of the Church with good humoured laugh. Moreover, Chaucer makes fu more of the individual than of the institution. The genial sympathy saves the Chaucer not only from bitterness, but also from bias. Satire is born of indignation. Langland’s picture of evil does not reflect the real state of affairs, while on the other hand, it is faithfully mirrored in Chaucer. Therefore, he is an objective humourist, a better realist than an indignant satirist.
Chaucer’s humour for man and humanity
Chaucer is essentially the poet of man and is intensely interested in his affairs. Chaucer humour leads him to be the poet of man and humanity. He ha large humanity and good-humoured tolerance for man. He has no disdain for fools and no disgust for rascals. While gently unmasking the roguery of rogues, he is grateful to them for the pleasure they give. He loves to dwell on their funny traits, looks at their pranks and tricks with amused delight –all these make him a great humourist.
Chaucer’s many sided humour
Chaucer’s humour is many sided. Humour can be used in a broad as well as limited sense. In the narrow sense, it means a gentle mirth. In the broader...