Irony in Canterbury Tales

Topics: Irony, The Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath's Tale Pages: 2 (890 words) Published: February 13, 2006
Irony is a form of speech in which the real meaning is concealed or contradicted by the words used. There are three tales that are fantastic demonstrations of irony. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, “The Pardoner’s Tale”, and “The Nun Priest’s Tale” are the three. While each one is different, each uses irony to teach its characters a lesson. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” does not have as much irony in it as the other two tales do. The most major ironical difference is that of the nature of the knight’s crime. He begins so violently as he rapes the young maid. However, he soon begins to show his meek side. Secondly, as the knight feels relief and assurance about a truth he states he will soon experience, irony is also brought into play. Chaucer uses ignorance to get across his idea of irony. For example, he has the knight ignorant of the old hag’s request. As the story furthers itself and the knight is forced to marry the hag, it is ironic that he let’s her choose what she wants to be, because that is exactly the response she wanted. She therefore chooses to be a young, fair maiden who is loyal and trustworthy. The entire time, he thought he would forever be married to an old, ugly woman. “The Pardoner’s Tale” has perhaps the most irony of all the tales in it. First, the entire story begins ironically when you realize who the narrator of the story is. The Pardoner is speaking out against many crimes; all of which he seems to be guilty of himself. He is a drunkard, sells fake jewelry, and will do anything to build up his riches. All the while, he’s preaching against drunkenness, blasphemy and avarice. In the beginning of the story, the three rioters promise to “live and die each for the other as if they were the other’s own brother born” in protection from Death [lines 375 – 376]. However, as they leave in search of Death, they soon find gold. This gold very quickly changes the hearts of the three rakes and creates division between them. Ironically, they...
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