Social Commentary In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales

Decent Essays

Geoffrey Chaucer, in his novel Canterbury Tales, characterizes twenty four pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. Ranging from knights to aristocrats to the trade class , the descriptive passages depict his opinions on each traveller. These characters in turn reflect Chaucer’s criticism and attitude towards medieval society, an example of social commentary. One character specifically used to reflect Chaucer's views on Scottish culture, the lower class, and corrupt businessmen is the Miler. In the general prologue, Chaucer reveals an overall negative opinion towards the Miller’s appearance and actions, reflecting his disappoint with aspects of the Middle Ages. Beginning with personal appearance, Chaucer uses descriptive imagery to reveal his dismissive feelings towards the Miller. The passage opens with describing Chaucer as a brute and “chap of sixteen stone” (561), which is equivalent to 224 pounds. To further the description of the Miller’s size, Chaucer then describes him as “a great stout fellow big in brawn and bone” (562). Both the weight and size descriptions merge to indicate that Chaucer views this man as large and muscular. However, an illustration of a “broad, knotty, and short-shouldered” (565) man alone would not epitomize Chaucer’s feelings towards the Miller. When combined with the Miller’s actions as a dominant man, it becomes evident that Chaucer is not fond of the brute. Specifically, Chaucer elaborates on the Miller’s strong stature by saying he can win

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