Satire and Irony in the Canterbury Tales

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Satire in The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the greatest English poets during the Middle Ages. He will forever be known as the leading author in English writing before the time of William Shakespeare. Chaucer wrote narrative poems in Middle English, the form of English used from about 1100 to about 1485. One of the keys to Chaucer’s continued critical success is the scope and diversity of his work. Readers of each century have discovered something new in Chaucer and have learned something about them, as well. A type of writing that makes fun of people and their weakness is satire. The use of satire is in many works of literature. This genre of literature shows the foolishness in humans and governments. The purpose of satire is to point out the faults in people. Many people find satire helpful because it takes a controversial topic and then makes it easier for a person to comprehend. Some also find it unfair and offensive. According to critic Alleva, “But satire isn’t fait; it is purposefully unfair” (18). This literary work is in the popular stories called The Canterbury Tales. He ridicules the roles of the medieval church, religion, marriage, and many other elements. Written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth-century, The Canterbury Tales is stories told by a group of pilgrims on a journey to the shrine of Thomas à Becket. They travel to Canterbury to pray. The road was extremely long, and the people were strangers to one another. To pass the time while traveling, the innkeeper suggests that they tell each other tales. He uses a form that has never been used before- the frame tale, which is a larger story inside smaller stories. The stories were interactive with others’ tales. Many people consider The Canterbury Tales a classic. Some are surprised at the humor found in the tales and their characters. Chaucer describes these characters using satire. By writing this, Chaucer was trying to change society. People could see what they were doing...
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