- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

How Geoffrey Chaucer Views Midevil Society

Essay by   •  November 11, 2013  •  Essay  •  592 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,579 Views

Essay Preview: How Geoffrey Chaucer Views Midevil Society

Report this essay
Page 1 of 3

In the middle ages, there were two types of people: virtuous and corrupt. The virtuous people were the people who were faithful to the church, selfless, and followed the code of chivalry. Corrupt people were the people who were selfish, only did things in their benefit and were very inauthentic; they made people believe that they were virtuous when, in reality, they were not. Chaucer's was telling his audience that no matter where you were during the middle ages, you were always going to be surrounded by corrupt people.

The first and most obvious way in which The Canterbury Tales conveys the Middle Ages is in its portrayal of women. There are two extreme forms of women from the tales of these characters. In the tales told by Chaucer's characters, women are either distant and pure possessions that must be upheld and fought over, such as Emily in the Knight's tale, or the sexually indiscriminate and silly women of the Miller's and Reeve's tales. Despite being markedly different, both the prim and proper Emily, and the wildly sexual women of the Miller's and Reeve's tales have a key trait in common: they are simply caricatures of women. Surely Chaucer was aware of how ridiculous his female characters were and it was no mistake that these views of women are held by a knight whose notions of reality are clouded by strict ideas of chivalry, a drunken and foolish miller, and a jealous and grumpy reeve. Chaucer was hoping to poke fun at the narrow views of women that most of medieval society had, showing that the only people that think women are really this way are fools.

Another element that Chaucer explores is the distinction between the educated parts of society and the common working class. In both the Reeve and Miller's tales, the conflict is between the scholars and students, and working-class men such as the carpenter and the miller. Each group views the other in a negative light, with the miller and carpenter viewing the students as arrogant, sneaky, meek, and unpractical. The students in turn view the miller and carpenter as stupid, simple, and easy to trick. Chaucer reflects the great separation and distrust that probably existed between those that had enough money to become educated, and those who lived their lives laboring. Chaucer seems to believe that both groups had their flaws, since his students, miller, and carpenter all have their own problems and weaknesses. This is notable since Chaucer himself was part of the educated.

The last aspect of society that Chaucer plays around with in The Canterbury Tales is that of crudeness vs. strictness in religion and society. Chaucer contrasts the rigid ideals of honor and chivalry of the Knight, with the crude fart jokes and sex of the Miller and the Reeve's tales. Chaucer also finds a way to make fun of the clergyman Absalom by bringing him down a notch in the Miller's tale, showing that even the proper and pious can commit



Download as:   txt (3.4 Kb)   pdf (58.8 Kb)   docx (9.7 Kb)  
Continue for 2 more pages »
Only available on