The Canterbury Tales; Embodiment of the Middle Ages.

Topics: The Canterbury Tales, Estates of the realm, Serfdom Pages: 4 (1231 words) Published: December 17, 2013

The Canterbury Tales; Embodiment of the Middle Ages.
Geoffrey Chaucer's “The Canterbury Tales" is more than just an entertaining collection of stories and characters; it is a representation of the society Chaucer lived in. In the late 14th century England the traditional feudal system was changing as the church was losing its importance and more people were becoming part of the emerging middle class. Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" is a microcosm of this society because it demonstrates the social divisions known as the Estates, it illustrates the growth of the middle class and the decline of the feudal system, and it shows the corruption and power of the Church, and it embodies most aspects of the Middle Age.

Feudal society was traditionally divided into three "estates", which were roughly equivalent to social classes. The "First Estate" was the Church, the "Second Estate" was the Nobility, and the "Third Estate" was the Peasantry. The rigid division of society into the three traditional "estates" was beginning to break down in the late 14th century England, and by the time of Chaucer, there was a rise of the middle class. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer is highly conscious of the social divisions known as the "Estates." While the genre of The Canterbury Tales as a whole is a frame narrative, the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is an example of "Estates Satire," a genre which criticizes the abuses that occur within the three traditional Estates.

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales embodies most aspects of the Middle Ages, whether it is in the form of immoral religious clergyman, poor, virtuous farmers, or the honorable knight. All these characters provide excellent examples of the many omnipresent themes of the Middle Ages. The prevailing values and themes of the Middle Ages included violence and revenge, religion and corruption, and social status and hierarchy.

The times in which Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is set are tumultuous and are...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Essay on The Canterbury Tales
  • Canterbury Tales Essay
  • Canterbury Tales Essay
  • Canterbury Tales Essay
  • Canterbury Tales Essay
  • The Canterbury Tales Essay
  • The Pardoner In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales Essay
  • Themes in the Canterbury Tales 1 Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free