Tones, Moods, and Irony in the Canterbury Tales

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Tones, Moods, and Irony in the Canterbury Tales

By | October 2012
Page 1 of 2
Forms of speech and intonation are extremely important to capture the attention of the audience, whether it is in writing or spoken aloud. In literature, the author uses some literary devices to entice the reader and extract some sort of reaction from him or her. Tone is a literary technique that shows the author’s attitude towards the audience or reader. The tone of a literary work can be informal, formal, serious, angry, playful, intimate, etc. Similar to tone is mood, which is the created atmosphere with the intention of coaxing a certain emotion from the audience, and is created through setting, theme, and tone. Irony, however, is a tone in which the real meaning is contradicted by the words that were used. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is a suitable novel for showing various examples of tone, mood, and irony through the many different characters, their personalities, and their narrations.

As far as literary tone goes, it is basically the same as the tone used when verbally speaking. Chaucer balanced the serious and deathly tales with the tales set for comedy. In the General Prologue, the portrayals of the Knight, the Parson, and the Plowman show a solemn tone while the Prioress, the Monk, the Merchant and many of the others have comical, ironic, and satiric tales which settle in great comedy. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer uses irony and straightforwardness more often than other tones. In the Wife of Bath’s Tale, there is very little emotion within the narration. For example, the story goes that for the knight’s deed, he should die because it is the law. There is no room for argument or hesitation, just follow the law. The Knight’s Tale is one of great magnitude. One can notice how Chaucer had honor towards the Knight, because of how grand he is portrayed and how epic his tale is. Everything that happens in the tale feels extravagant and larger than life. The tone of the Knight’s Tale is Chaucer’s way of convincing the...

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