Irony In The Canterbury Tales Analysis

881 Words4 Pages
Chaucer’s Irony Irony is an element which is found all throughout the best and worst pieces of literature. This is an element of literature which gives the reader an understanding of the story. In Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”, he uses three distinct forms of irony which add to the story. Irony is basically the expression of one’s meaning by using language to signify the opposite. In this story, Chaucer uses dramatic, situational and verbal irony all throughout his story. By incorporating these kinds of ironies, Chaucer is able to paint a picture through his story. This in turn adds to the overall theme of the story. Accordingly, in “The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer displays three specific forms of irony. One form of irony which is demonstrated in the selection is that of dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is a literary technique where the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader but are unknown to the character. In the “Pardoners Tale”, three men set out to kill death in revenge. During their journey, the second man makes a promise to keep the first man’s secret. The readers by this moment in time, know for a fact that this man’s word means absolutely nothing. As the journey progresses, the men abandoned their vow to kill death and instead claimed gold which was not theirs and are now conspiring to break the vow to divide the money equally. “That on my word, I nothing will betray” (Chaucer, 720). The statement “On my word”, turns out to be a statement depicting dramatic irony. By this time the audience knows that the man’s inability to keep his word, will in turn be the down fall and dramatic irony of the selection. Additionally, the second form of irony displayed in the selection is that of verbal irony. Verbal irony is when someone says the opposite of what they really mean. The pardoner himself displays dishonesty and does not practice what he preaches. The Pardoner constantly preaches in and out of church that money is the root of all evil. Ironically enough, the Pardoner condemns the same vice that he in fact lives by. He is always ranting on about how greed is evil and how no one should act like this. He states, Avarice is the theme that I employ in all my
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