Summary Of Meta-Fiction In 'The Canterbury Tales'

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In The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer is able to provide explicit social commentary of his characters to his readers through the process of meta-fiction, in which he writes about the art of literature and its effect on the readers. Through the use of meta-fiction, Chaucer is able to hide behind his overt commentary of the social classes, which includes criticizing members of the church and the social elite, while also commenting on social, religious, and gender inequality. In “The Prologue to The Tale of Sir Thopas”, Chaucer avoids the repercussions of his political statements by portraying himself as a quiet character of unknown social class who tells a dumb-witted tale to play to his naivety, while following with an advisory tale saturated with legal and moral arguments, leaving the characters, and the readers, wondering about the depths of his character. The way that Chaucer performs this meta-fiction is in itself an art form, as he inserts himself as a character in the tales, playing the role of the observant yet naïve narrator. Throughout the tales, the character Chaucer remains silent, keeping his opinions to himself and never implying a place where he should tell his story, unlike the drunk, lowly miller who interrupts the social order by telling his tale before the monk. However, Chaucer the author explicitly draws attention to this silence in the prologue before “The Tale of Sir Thopas” after the prioress finishes her tale, to which he says, “Whan seyd was al

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