Middle Class In Medieval England

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The Emerging Middle Class in Medieval England According to Chaucer When one is told to imagine medieval England, images of kings, gentlemen knights, and fair ladies waiting patiently in their towers might come to mind. Maybe instead one thinks of brutal religious wars, and members of the clergy praying faithfully in their monasteries. Or perhaps instead the very thought of the middle ages invokes images of poverty that only a life of squalor in the middle ages can permit. It would be hard to imagine anything else, and within good reason; in the fourteenth century, there were only three social classes, or estates. The first estate was the church, the very center of fourteenth century society. The second estate, the nobility and military, was …show more content…

“the first kind of class disctinction is that denoted by the concpet of ‘rank’ or ‘degree’ familiar enough in outline, though chaucer’s own perception and use of it and his reservatiosn about it are intreresting. at the beginning of centerbury tales, he says he will describe the pilgrims by telling us, among other things, what degree they are; that is, their social locus”(cite) Chaucer made it very clear in his writing which charcaters belonged to which class, and while he never satired or ridiculed any class in particular, his use of irony and choice in vocublary in describing characters that belong to certain groups reveal the bias he has. Primarily, his thoughts on the first and third estate. “On the one hand, Chaucer often shows the institutional practices of the surrounding culture compromising the values they were originally designed to uphold. On the other, he seems to respect those institutions however flawed their practices” (cite) Chaucer’s thinly veiled, but respectful, critique of the church lies primarily in his characters, the friar, the monk, the summoner and the pardoner. The hypocritical nature of these characters is what is most noticeable. More specifically, the Friar would seem to be the most hypocritical of them all in his acts and behavior. Though he never states outright that these characters are hypocrites, his use of irony says enough. “Chaucer was known for his ironic descriptions of various sojourners in the Canterbury Tales . The description given to the Friar in the "General Prologue" does not stray from Chaucer’s trademark. The Friar is described as a "limitour" [begs on the behalf of the poor], yet we see that he is a bachelor on a love hunt, a crooked businessman and does complete his duties

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