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Gay Rights In Canterbury Tales

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The rainbow flag flies; ‘gay’ rights rise. Nowadays, in a diverse society, people are accepting same-sex relationship, regardless of Christians and those conservatives. Yet, LGBT rights still are not widely protected by laws, except a small number of countries. Meanwhile, the word ‘gay’, which we use to describe homosexual people, love, or marriage, had evolved via its long history in the English language. By exploring the etymology of this word and reviewing its usage in several literal texts, this essay will discover the relationship between different meanings of the word ‘gay’ throughout the timeline and the nature of ‘gay’ love, and thus examine whether ‘gay’ rights should be urged to be legally safeguarded or not. In the first part of…show more content…
In the General Prologue, Chaucer used ‘gay’ as the adjective ‘elegant’ to describe the Knight’s yeoman’s archer’s wrist-guard and dagger: “Upon his arm he baar a gay bracer” (111) and “And on that oother syde a gay daggere” (113). Also, he used ‘gay’ as the adverb “gaily” to express that the Knight was poorly dressed: “His hors were goode, but he was nat gay” (74). The word ‘gay’ is used to facilitate the shaping of sarcasm, which is Chaucer’s motif of The Canterbury Tales, toward these two characters. The Yeoman was a servant who normally did not care about his or her clothing and could not afford fine equipments. But, he was nicely dressed and looked after his magnificent utensils. Meanwhile, the Knight who should be dressed up with the cavalier glory wore plain-looking clothes. The characters’ identity does not match with their behaviours. The two characters, the Yeoman and the Knight, themselves give a great contrast too. With the word ‘gay’ as a medium, these awkward comparisons create an irony to the characters. The word ‘gay’ appears ten times in The Wife of Bath’s Tale. In line 221 (“To brynge me gaye thynges fro the fayre”), ‘gay’ in a different spelling ‘gaye’ was used to refer “stately and beautiful” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Also, ‘gay’ refers to well-dressed in line 355 (“This is to seye, if I be gay, sire shrewe”). Moreover, he associated ‘gay’ with immortality: “But in oure bed he was so fressh and gay” (298). Besides, the original interpretation of ‘gay’ which is carefree appears in “Why is my neighebores wyf so gay?” (236) and “For evere yet I loved to be gay” (545). In short, Chaucer used the word ‘gay’ as elegant, “splendid and showily dressed” (Online Etymology Dictionary), beautiful, immortal, and
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