The 14th Century: From Chaucer’s Perspective
Often times, spoofs or satires of certain events or eras, however funny they may be, might be the most accurate depictions of that specific event. It is a way to over exaggerate details to make the reader very aware of them. In that same way, it also becomes memorable and not easy to forget whatever event or era the satire or spoof is presented. This is held true for The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer paints an accurate picture of what it was to live in the fourteenth century through his story, by showing the different levels of society, by showing people’s feelings towards certain topics, and a clear view of the corruption of the Church during that time.
The fourteenth century was still very much a socially structured society where classes didn’t often mix. Society was still ruled by the Church who held most of the power. Followed by the nobles, who were in the military held some power in that like the Church they didn’t pay taxes and were still esteemed greatly. Finally those who worked (i.e. merchants, carpenters, farmers) were at the bottom of all classes. These people did pay taxes and were under the rule of the classes above them. The Canterbury Tales starts with a general prologue where the characters are “ presented to us within a carefully organized structure that reflects the hierarchal order of [the 14th century] contemporary society.” (Morgan, 411) In this way Chaucer gives us a picture of how society functioned and the roles that each character played. Introducing the Knight first followed by the Squire making it to the very end to the Pardoner. However, in the actual time period, the reunion of people from all classes would have not happened. They would’ve been apart from each other and would not travel together. Chaucer groups them together so information can be drawn from them in a simple manner. He used stereotypes and titles of each kind of person to give a further explanation of that particular...
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