Satire In The Canterbury Tales

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Everybody loves sarcasm. Especially loves that find themselves to be a smidge more intuitive than others. Intellectual people can find uses for sarcasm in places where no one else would look, and this includes texts from the 1300’s. Geoffrey Chaucer was a huge fan of sarcasm and satire, he joined the bandwagon of giving people what they wanted to read, and he did this using the sneak attack known as satire. Chaucer’s satire can be observed in man places throughout The Canterbury Tales, the General Prologue being the first. “The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is an estates satire. In the Host’s portraits of the pilgrims, he sets out the functions of each estate and satirizes how members of the estates – particularly those of the Church – fail to meet their duties.” (Jinglehiemers, “Social Satire Theme Analysis.”) As suggested by Jinglehiemers, Chaucer lays down what is to come in his writing in The General Prologue, this includes designating where and how he will distribute his satire. Geoffrey Chaucer uses satire in The Canterbury Tales to ridicule the hypocrisy in the Church, attack the patriarchy, and address the issues surrounding the class system of that time. Chaucer’s first attack strikes the Catholic Church and its backward doctrines. Many-a-time throughout the entirety of The Canterbury Tales Chaucer uses characters to prove how much he hates how the Church is parading itself. Now, Chaucer does not hate the Catholic denomination, nor the Christian Church, but instead loathes what the supposed ‘people of the Church’ and the Church itself stand for. Hypocrisy of Church’s attendants is found in The General Prologue, the tale and prologue and tale of the Summoner, the Pardoner, and the Fryer. The Summoner and the Pardoner an unarguably the worst characters in the lot. Terrible men with terrible games and terrible tricks for money. The Pardoner is quoted as saying, “But shortly myn entente I wol devyse: I preche of no thing but for coveityse. Therfore my theme is yet, and evere was, Radix malorum est Cupiditas.” (Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner’s Prolouge) This roughly translates to the Pardoner saying that what he is telling the people who comes to him for advice is garbage and

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