Learning About Medieval Life and Society from Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

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Learning About Medieval Life and Society from Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

I have been studying Geoffrey Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, of which I looked specifically at six portraits, these being: the Knight, his son, a young squire, the prioress, the wife of Bath, the Miller and the Pardoner. From these portraits I was able to observe the ways of life and society in medieval times. I found out about social status, fashion, wealth, romantic love, the importance of manners and the church during this era - and these are just the topics I took particular interest in; there were many other areas of medieval life and society that Chaucer's General Prologue to
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From Chaucer's Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the wealth of a portrait linked them to their social status and often to the fashion of this time also; the wife of Bath is an example of this. She was a good-looking woman who had had five husbands in total, and she was very well-off due to her profession in cloth-making which Chaucer explains to be 'the best' - 'Of clooth-making she hadde swich an haunt, She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt'. Her social status was very high, as she was the first woman in the church to make an offering to the parish priest, but she used her status to her advantage, for if someone went before her 'she was out of alle charitee' (she would be very angry) and would not give her offering. Her high status also linked in with the fashion of this era. She wore scarlet stockings, which is very much a status symbol because of the colour, but also, the wife of Bath wore 'shoes ful moiste and newe' - these would have been soft leather shoes which were very expensive. The expense gone into her clothing reflects her social status and also her wealth very much so.

The prioress is another portrait that resembles the link between social status and fashion, bringing wealth into the link also, due to having such a high status. The prioress is one of the group who represented the church in the fourteenth century, which was a

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