The Element of Satire with Respect to Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales"

1318 words 6 pages
THESIS:
THE ELEMENT OF SATIRE WITH RESPECT TO CHAUCER'S "CANTERBURY TALES" It is human nature to laugh when an event goes wrong or to make a mockery of an all too serious person. But what if authors had the power to use this instinct within humans to drive a point across? In fact they do and they call this literary tool…satire. Many authors have used this tool as a backbone in their writings; others have only managed to throw in elements of satire here and there. However, there was one author who had mastered this literary tool, and who could use it to the extremes. He had the ability to use it as playfully and lightheartedly as if to just tease. But, in an instant, he could use it to denigrate a person and ruin all that was
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Though Chaucer was a man of religious standards he is also a man of tolerance (Wagenknecht 61). He knew all too well that he was, in fact, not perfect. And when he chooses to satirize the Monk he holds this into account. It then becomes clear how Chaucer was a person who saw the faults of people, but was able to look past it if the intent of the character was good: From the Monk's general prologue I noticed that his sleeves were edged and trimmed With squirrel fur, the finest in the land. For fastening his hood beneath his chin, He wore an elaborate golden pin. (Wright 13)
These lines describe how the Monk was dressed which was very much out of the normal attire assigned to monks at that time. The Monk is a man who does what he wants with no regard for the church in which he's pledged his soul. Chaucer satirizes the Monk rather lightly compared to other criticisms. And what it amounts to would be a slap on the wrist, this is because Chaucer realizes the Monk has done wrong, but he is not hurting anyone.
The Pardoner's and the Summoner's descriptions are more serious. This is due to the fact that Pardoner and the Summoner are more opportunistic than any other pilgrims. The Friar fits in with them but he is also not nearly as bad. Chaucer's satire becomes more insulting and less joking when he writes about the Pardoner and the Summoner. This

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