How To Handle British English Conventions With Different Style Guides Cross Section of 14th Century – How Chaucer Sees It

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Cross Section of 14th Century – How Chaucer Sees It

aside for his great poetic and literary merits, The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales it is a wonderful commentary on English life in the Middle Ages. Dryden has rightly remarked that Chaucer must have been a man of the most sympathetic nature that he could bring to the compass of his The Canterbury Tales the manners and humors of his age. His keen observation, his extensive travels, his extensive knowledge and his varied experience in the service of the State allowed him to present such a vivid image of life and the human pattern. Perhaps it was his desire to exhibit his vast knowledge that conceived the idea of ​​writing O Canterbury Tales.

Chaucer’s technique for portraying his characters lies in a cheerful originality, free of complications. In fact Chaucer being the true storyteller of his time, brings before us the reality in its very original form. He is an objective writer for whom things are best represented when they are in their original form. Perhaps he is among those who first abandoned the conventions that did not present the thing in its obvious beauty. Chaucer exhibited the whole pageant of mankind with its greater part exposed and little curtains drawn over it.

Chaucer gave a wide variety of professions of his time. The Knight and the Squire show chivalrous class. The Clerk, Doctor of Physics and even the poet himself are the representatives of the learned and liberal class. Chaucer did not discuss either the elite or the oppressed class of his age. It offers us the living image of all those professions, which were adopted by the middle class. Commerce, manufacture, and even agriculture are not ignored by him. It included all town and village professions.

The important aspect we get from his masterpiece of writing is the moral condition of that time. He introduced a number of ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical characters and most of them are morally bankrupt. Friar, Monk, Invoker and Forgiver being officials of the church. they are expected to be ethical and religious, but it is only their outward appearance, inside they are the ones who make money from other people’s problems, they are mercenaries. Chaucer presented them in a way that exposed their lack of discipline. The institution of the church, which acquired great power in the Middle Ages, became a place of extortion. Evil was not taken as a disease to be eradicated but an opportunity to make money. The practice of giving huge tithes to the abbot when the vicar had insufficient income was a common occurrence. Many people left their ignorant and half-savage peasantry to go to London or some other place as chapel priests; Monk’s Statement”Why study and make yourself a forest” it gives the true picture of his inadequacy for his work.

Not only the religious authorities but also the various social sects of life reflect the same impression. Doctor of Physics, Lawyer, Manciple, Reeve and even merchants are not sincere about their obligations. They wear the masks of virtue but in practice they never leave the opportunity to profit from the sufferings of others. Chaucer presented the reality in a sugar-coated way, as he knew that he could develop hatred against humanity.

Females in “The Canterbury Tales” are Prioress and Wife of Bath who embody the spirit of revolt against contemporary gender discrimination. The Wife of Bath is a dominant character who has declared a revolt against men in general. Prioress does not obey the bishop’s orders, keeps the pets and goes on pilgrimage.

by Chaucer”The Canterbury Tales” gives extensive information about the dresses, food and different instruments common in those days. The gentleman’s doublet, the short embroidered dress of the Squire, the fur-lined sleeves of the Monk’s garment, the broad cloth and the heavy cloth of the Wife of Bath represent the fashion and style of dress in those days Roast swans, red wine, different types of fish were the popular food of the time, daggers, swords and horses were a common sight.

It is interesting to see that his astute analysis of the characters with all their manners, idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes make them full of life and not mere bloodless mannequins. They do not remain phantoms of the mind because they are not Chaucer’s spokesmen but a faithful reflection of his age. Along with the speculative clerics there are several characters in “The Canterbury Tales” who are spokespersons for Christian doctrines and dogmas in the 14th century. Among these moral personages we find Parson, Clerk, Plowman, etc., though poor in worldly material but rich in thoughts and works. Parson satisfies his conscience by being practical and not just theoretical; As he says

If the gold is reused what will Irene do? e

A shiten shepherd and a clene sheep

These statements justify the poor state of the church and social ranks because it is natural for the inferior or the poor to indulge in crime if the aristocratic and ruling faculties are vicious. The state of morality was poor in the Middle Ages, when rich and poor all were sinners and had to undergo penance which was easier for the rich in the form of a large amount.

We can conclude that Chaucer without amendment or disguise interpreted the life of the fourteenth century through the experience of people and professions.

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