Rising Middle Class in the Canterbury Tales
Nobles, Priests, Peasants, and scholars few of many descriptions given to people living in the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages, was a time in European history when people were separated by jobs, religious beliefs, and money. During the Middle Ages a class system began to develop and out of that rose the middle class. Middle class is the social group between the upper and working classes, including professional and business workers and their families In literature many writers have been able to depict economic and social changes through poems, novels, and short stories. Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem, The Canterbury Tales, depicts the rising middle class in the midst of the Middle Ages through the use of characters, their actions, and setting.
Geoffrey Chaucer lived from thirteen-forty-three to fourteen-hundred. He wrote his poems in middle-English, which is called Vernacular. “Geoffrey Chaucer chose to write his poetry in the Vernacular – the everyday language – of his time and place (Coghill 18).” Perhaps one of Chaucer’s most important literary works, “The Canterbury Tales,” sets the stage for a more in depth understanding of the classes of the Middle Ages. Chaucer’s use of middle-English (Vernacular) helped readers to better understand more about the rising middle class being that this was the dialect used by the rising middle class at the time it helps to show how they really thought, felt, and lived. When understanding a culture
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The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer is over 600 years old, yet it is still being read and discussed today. What makes it still relevant? History, it gives us a record of Middle English and how it was used at the time. The primary challenge that most reader’s of Chaucer’s General Prologue experience is understanding the language. Although, Chaucer’s English is centuries old it is still recognizable. After studying the language, I noticed the main difference between Middle and Modern English is the
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales was written during a time of societal change, away from the stability of feudalism and towards an individualistic, mercantile economy. Feudalism consisted of a static, rural economy where every member had a duty to serve those above them. They valued the greater good and were not focused on gaining economically for their own personal benefit. An era of change, however, began as events such as the Crusades opened up trading opportunities which would eventually cause a shift in England, as the economy went from being land-based to money-based. A mercantile class was on the rise as well as capitalism. People were no longer driven to work by a sense of personal duty for the common good, but rather for their own social and economic gain. Corruption of the Church during this time as well increased, as church members were affected negatively by this changing economy. Many were driven by greed as well and took on immoral approaches towards their church positions. Vows and church teachings were disregarded as indulgences and materialism became the main focus of many in the clergy. Through his satirical portrayal of his characters in Canterbury Tales, Chaucer explores issues such as the changing economy and corruption of the church in order to expose and criticize the wrongdoings and values of his shifting society caused by the end of feudalism during this time.
It is clear that Geoffrey Chaucer was acutely aware of the strict classist system in which he lived; indeed the very subject matter of his Canterbury Tales (CT) is a commentary on this system: its shortcomings and its benefits regarding English society. In fact, Chaucer is particularly adept at portraying each of his pilgrims as an example of various strata within 14th century English society. And upon first reading the CT, one might mistake Chaucer's acute social awareness and insightful characterizations as accurate portrayals of British society in the late 1300s and early 1400s. Further, one might mistake his analysis, criticism, and his sardonic condemnation of many elements of British culture for genuine attempts to alter the
Chaucer’s use of middle-English (Vernacular) helped readers to better understand more about the rising middle class being that this was the dialect used by the rising middle class at the time it helps to show how they really thought, felt, and lived. When understanding a culture something as seemingly trivial as vocabulary and grammar differences truly effect the views of society and people with in certain settings and time periods. “The Canterbury Tales opens with a general Prologue that introduces the pilgrims,
The Canterbury Tales, the most famous and revolutionary work of Geoffrey Chaucer, is a collection of twenty-four tales presented in the form of a story-telling contest by pilgrims who are traveling from London to Canterbury. In my viewpoint, The Canterbury Tales can be understood as a representation of the English society at Chaucer's time as it documents several of the social tensions of life in the late Middle Age. The choice of setting the tales as part of a pilgrimage allowed the author to cover a wide range of social roles with varying hierarchical positions and occupations. Therefore, the tales depict a number of the evolving themes by that time in many segments of the society, such as the ones presented in The Wife of Bath tale: the
The Canterbury Tales is absorbed in the minutiae of the three estates, or the distinctions between class and social status. In many ways, too, it seems to act as a parody on the various classes.
The Canterbury Tales is a story that incorporates a multitude of stories told by a multitude of characters. Written by Geoffrey Chaucer, he devises a novel in which each character has to narrate a total of four stories as part of a competition; on their way to visit Saint Thomas Becket, the characters would tell two stories going and two stories returning from the journey. The perspective changes through each story, and each story is introduced by a general, opening, third person prologue. Though many of the characters got to share some ideas, Chaucer unfortunately passed away before his story’s entirety. As a result, a winner was never officially clarified. Needless to say, it is evident that the clear winner would be the Miller’s Tale.
Written by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the fourteenth century, The Canterbury Tales and more specifically it’s prologue, shed a great deal of light on the rising middle class in (fourteenth century) England. Despite the fact that some readers may not know a lot about the time period today, Chaucer’s writing in the prologue elaborates on topics such as occupations, wealth, education, and political power. Scholar Barbara Nolan writes of the prologue, “it is more complex than most…It raises expectations in just the areas the handbooks propose, promising to take up important matters of natural and social order, moral character, and religion and outlining the organization the work will follow” (Nolan 154). In other words, while noting the
The medieval period is the period in history beginning with the Renaissance, literally meaning the “middle period” in history. Clothing, tradition, religion and lifestyle were viewed much differently than they are in today’s modern society. The best example of all the different types of people and their lifestyles is Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in which he opens with a description of twenty-nine people going on a pilgrimage. The way people behave today allows readers to recognize each character's distinct personality. In the “General Prologue”, Chaucer describes the Wife of Bath in a way that is much different than how he describes the other twenty-eight characters. His use of imagery, word choice, tone and rhythm to describe the Wife lure
The Medieval period of The Canterbury Tales is held on April 11, 1387. The writing style of tales are literary skilled. “There is clear evidence in them that Chaucer was familiar with a considerable number of the great book of his time, and it is fairly well established that his writings show a steady increase in his literary skill” (Chaucer xxxvii). Chaucer is a writer of surprise. His stories not only come from plots of other writers but also from his lifetime. “There is of course no explaining where or how Chaucer acquired his ability as a great storyteller. However, the fact that he was a man of affairs as well as a man of books, a civil servant who dealt frequently with people from all walks of life, seem to have had great
In the Canterbury Tales, the majority of the characters are in the middle class. The middle class is talked about on multiple occasions and is discussed throughout the story. There are multiple examples in which the character of the middle class is shown. Though the middle class has a variety of different people from different backgrounds with different skills the usually all have around the same ways of acting towards certain situations. These are some of the reasons that they are all grouped together with the same characteristics.They are strong, hard-working, and yet easily manipulated.
However, one work, The Canterbury Tales, shows significant literary influence from many of his contemporaries. Despite the many influences, Chaucer showed his true expertise in how he was able to blend old literary techniques with his own new ideas. Many scholars have praised Chaucer for creating characters that the average middle-class English individual could relate to. Many of his "tales" are about middle-class individuals such as a merchant or a miller. It is for this reason why this work was so significant among the English in the Middle Ages. Chaucer gave middle-class England a scholarly literary work that the average individual could understand. As a result, the work became well-known among the English citizens, which led to the popularizing of Chaucer's language.
The Canterbury Tales, a collection of tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, was written in Middle English at the end of the 14th century (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011). It is considered to be the best work of literature in English in the Middle Ages (Johnston, 1998). Chaucer uses literary devices as no one had ever done. In addition, he chose to use English instead of Latin. This masterpiece is structured in a similar way as Bocaccio's Decameron. The tales are organized within a frame narrative (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011) explained in the General Prologue by the narrator: a group of pilgrims that are going to visit St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury's Cathedral. These pilgrims are from different estates of the medieval society: nobility, the
Chaucer is generally considered the father of English poetry, and The Canterbury Tales has been required reading for countless students over the generations. The influence of his work on generations of English-language writers is undisputed. Some critics have worried that such wide and shallow exposure of the reading public to Chaucer's work has diluted full appreciation for his complex contribution to literature. Critic Derek Traversi says, “The appreciation of Geoffrey Chaucer has suffered a good deal in the past from his reputation as the ‘Father of English poetry.’ It has been easy to think of him as a ‘naif,’ the possessor of a charming simplicity of outlook which tends to convey itself, for a modern reader, through language considered ‘picturesque’ or simply childish, alternately ‘quaint’ or redolent of innocence for readers who think of themselves as more sophisticated and more psychologically complex.” However, this view is not correct, Traversi argues: “His early poems show him engaged in exploring the possibilities of the English language as an instrument for sophisticated literary creation.” As poet William Blake put it, over four hundred years after the book's first publication: “Of Chaucer's characters, as described in his Canterbury Tales, some of the names are altered by Time, but the Characters themselves for ever remain unaltered and consequently they are the Physiognomies or lineaments of