April 11, 2010
Springtime in The Canterbury Tales
_See how the lilies of the field grow. …Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.-Matthew 6:28-29_ Springtime and beauty is inevitably linked in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Chaucer uses the images of springtime from the very beginning of the prologue to promote the idea of renewal and overall joyfulness. Not only is it used to establish tone or theme in the prologue, but is also used closely with the descriptions of beauty for the tales that follow. Chaucer knew that that his readers would without hesitation identify with springtime and the idea of renewing ourselves for a new season, just like the pilgrims we read about. Anyone who reads the Canterbury Tales will find pilgrims who are not without faults going on a pilgrimage to a religious site looking to purify themselves. By placing them in springtime he has set up a direct contrast between what early Christians would have deemed a “holy” life and the ones led by the travelers. Found even in descriptions of beauty. The pilgrims stories are in way, asking us to look closely at our own nature and perhaps institute the idea of changing ourselves for the better. Chaucer uses an intense theme of springtime to promote the ideas of youthfulness and beauty. The most prominent example is in the very opening lines of the General Prologue, "Whan that April with his shoures soote/ The droghte of March hath perced to the roote/ And bathed every veyne in swiche licour" (Pg 41 line 1-3) In the beginning we have the opening of April. We know that it is the very beginning of the month because the second line mentions that “March hath pierced to the roote.” Although many would say that this would mean there had been a “droghte” leaving things dry. When I read this line I considered the geographical weather patterns of Britian and concluded that it is always raining there....
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