The Prologue Of The Canterbury Tales Essay

The Prologue Of The Canterbury Tales Essay

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Expectations are either set high or set low; and everyone who’s a part of society chooses to meet, exceed, or ignore those expectations. In the prologue of The Canterbury Tales, author Geoffrey Chaucer creates a diverse group of characters who are involved in several different roles of society. Throughout the prologue Chaucer humorously describes each person, and their position in their society and how they live their life; whether that be the way that is expected of them or not. Chaucer satirizes characters in the prologue by using exaggeration, hyperboles, irony, and imagery to represent through them the choices that different people make based on the expectations of society.
One way that Chaucer pokes fun at the characters in the Prologue is through exaggeration. He takes the stereotype of a position and shows how it can be influenced. One character that Chaucer does this with is the Pardoner, a person whose job is to pardon people’s sins. The Pardoner uses many “relics, anytime he found/ some poor up-country parson to astound,/ in one short day . . . he drew/ more than a parson in a day or two/ and by his flatteries . . . / made monkeys of the priest and congregation.” (Chaucer 721-726); but besides the relics “best of all he sang an Offertory/ . . . and (well he could) win silver from the crowd./ That’s why he sang so merrily and loud (Chaucer 730 - 734). The Pardoner recognizes his position in society and that through manipulation he is able to gain more money for himself. He chooses to make himself appear as though he is a great, wise, and honest man; by doing this he is filling the expectations that people have on him based on his role as pardoner. However, he is also choosing to not be honest about where the money is go...


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... Chaucer (402-404). This is a basic example of society’s expectations for a sailor. The Skipper chooses to be outside, working on a ship, in the sun all day; because of this he is living up to the mold that society has set for him. Chaucer shows how imagery is linked in with the expectations of society and the choices that the people make.
Geoffrey Chaucer satirizes the different characters of the Prologue in an effort to show the differences in society’s expectations and the actions that people choose to do based on those expectations. He successfully uses exaggeration, hyperboles, irony, and imagery to express this idea. Each character identifies with a specific section of the social order. And within each section is it’s own standards; yet these character’s choice go outside the norm and create a new meaning and new views on the way that these roles are perceived.

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