Canterbury Tales: The Squire and Absolon
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 14th century. The original piece was written as a poem in Middle English. The Tales start off with Chaucer, acting as the narrator, explaining to us in the “General Prologue” that along with 29 other pilgrims, he will be travelling to Canterbury Cathedral to pay homage to Saint Thomas Beckett. Along the way, every pilgrim will be responsible for a telling tale to entertain their companions. Chaucer goes into great detail on each of his companions, giving readers not only a physical description, but also a sense of the narrator’s opinion of each traveler. Chaucer gives us an extremely varied group of characters from all walks of life, from the “noble knight” (Oxford 4) who is regarded as the highest social-ranking member of the group, to the drunken miller, the thrice-married wife of Bath, and the untrustworthy pardoner. Two of the characters in The Canterbury Tales, the squire, who is Chaucer’s fellow traveler, and Absolon, one of the characters in “The Miller’s Tale”, appear to be very different, but in reality they both embody and represent the same set of beliefs that Chaucer ridicules.
The squire is one of the pilgrims travelling with Chaucer and first appears in the “General Prologue”. He is the son of the noble and reputable knight and appears to be the ideal son and squire we would expect; the narrator describes him as “polite, modest, willing to serve” and had “taken part in cavalry forays” (5). As a knight in training, the squire should be focusing on the skills that will make him a good knight like his father, jousting and riding for example. The narrator, however, spends a relatively short amount of time describing his knightly qualities; instead, the majority of the characterization focuses on the squire’s physical description and his other unexpected skills. The physical description of the squire, with “his...
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