The Canterbury Tales
“The Miller’s Tale.” Critical Analysis Of Jealousy Theme Critical Essay
The Miller’s Tale is the second story in the medieval collection written by Geoffrey Chaucer. Eleven pilgrims tell the stories to each other as they travel on their way to Canterbury. The first story is told by a knight, about two princes who fall in love with Emelye at first sight. Next, the miller gets his turn.
It has been argued that the Miller’s tale reflects a fall in social status a from the noble intentions of the characters in the Knight’s Tale, and their noble standing as well, in contrast to the commoners in the latter’s tale: a carpenter, a scientist interested in astrology, and a poet.
This paper will give a critical analysis of “The Miller’s Tale” focusing on the theme of jealousy as portrayed by the major characters. The article by Charles Smith on the subject of jealousy in Chaucer’s stories will be used to elaborate this theme better as it is presented in the Miller’s Tale.
It has been noted that there is a striking resemblance between the Miller’s Tale and another poem which appeared at around the same time as Chaucer’s story did. The anonymous poem is also about a married woman Alison who is desired by two men. It is debatable whether Chaucer’s story is based on the anonymous poem.
In the Canterbury Tales, after the knight has finished telling his story, it is the miller’s turn. The miller tells the story of a carpenter by the name of John, who lives with his newly married wife, Alison, and a scientist Nicholas who is interested in astrology.
John in “The Miller’s Tale” is very protective of his young wife; he fears that because of the difference in their ages and her beauty, he might lose her to another man. Nicholas, the clerk, is enamored by Alison, and the situation is not helped after he comes upon her inflagrante delicto when her husband is away.
As is clear from the summary, Nicholas decides that he will woo Alison into becoming his lover and develops the habit of flirting with her in her husband’s absence. At the same time, there is Absolom, the poet and clerk, who is just as enamored. He, on the other hand, woos Alison the proper way; by standing outside her window and serenading her after dark.
However, Alison prefers Nicholas and makes a mockery of Absolom’s courtship and agrees to be Nicholas’ lover, which is the act of betrayal. They hatch an elaborate plot in which they deceive the carpenter into thinking there is a great flood coming, and he needs to put wooden tubs in the attic where they will spend the night on the day the wave is to commence so that they can be safe.
Nicholas and Alison take the chance on the night preceding the flood to creep downstairs and spend the night in each other’s arms. At dawn, when Absolom comes to do his serenade, Alison comes to the window, and out of mischief lets him kiss her ass.
Furious, he goes to the blacksmith from where he gets a hot hoe and brands Nicholas ass with it. The commotion rouses John, who falls from the attic into the cellar breaking an arm. When other people come to investigate what the problem might be, the two lovers accuse the carpenter of being mad. And there ends The Miller’s Tale.
How Does “The Miller’s Tale” Reflect the Miller?
Charles Smith, writing in the Chaucer Review, picks the theme of jealousy on which to elaborate upon. He starts by pointing out that the miller wants to tell a tale that will mock a jealous husband. Smith on the kind of jealousy that the miller understands the sort of jealousy that is inspired by envy and selfishness, not that which stems from the need to uphold the purity of one’s wife.
The former kind is the one which the miller mocks. The author goes ahead to state that the miller sets out to ridicule the carpenter and the Reeve because of the results of their jealous actions. However, he might just as well be mocking himself because of the way he talks openly about his marital concerns relay underlying insecurity.
To better understand the context of jealousy as it is played out in the Miller’s Tale, Charles Smith begins by explaining Biblical jealousy of the Old Testament. He states that the God of the Old Testament is very possessive, with constant demands of faithfulness to Him and Him alone.
Whenever His adherents went astray, He visited His wrath upon them. He illustrates this with the example of God talking to Moses on the Mount, reaffirming that he should not worship any other God other than Yahweh, and with Paul in the New Testament. Paul passes on the message that the commitment required of God’s believers is as that of a virgin to her husband upon marriage.
From this point, he expounds that in religious medieval times, such as that in which the Miller’s Tale is set, it was to be expected for a husband to be outraged upon the spouse’s indiscretion. So much so that he may even resort to violence. In some cases, the husband would proceed to a court of law and file for a divorce.
Smith further elaborates that in medieval times, a husband’s love had to have an aspect of godly jealousy because the husband was interested in maintaining the ‘spiritual well-being’ (Smith n.p) of the spouse. This kind of jealousy had wrathful vindictiveness that dictated punishment for going astray.
Quoting Berchorius, who says that God’s love for the human soul is a jealous type of love and that when a man tries to go astray, then God brings him back to the fold but punishes him so that he may not stray again. Jealousy is taken as a sign of love because if a husband is not jealous of his wife, it means that he is indifferent and thus cannot have deep-seated feelings for her.
This background information provided by Charles Smith helps us to gain a better understanding of John the Carpenter’s insecurity about his wife’s infidelity, not eased by the fact that he was way older than her, and she was beautiful. He was mortified by the thought of being the cuckolded husband.
However, Smith points out that the miller Robin is a victim of jealousy without showing much concern for his wife’s soul (Smith n.p). The conclusion can then be drawn that though the miller is outraged by his wife’s actions, he is not jealous, and thus it cannot be that he loves her.
Charles Smith further elaborates on how the theme of jealousy was regarded in popular medieval literature. He says that there were understood to be two categories of jealousy: the jealousy of true and lasting love, where the two lovers have earned each others’ trust, and their jealousy is driven by a need to safeguard the other’s soul.
The other kind of jealousy is the one that is inspired by the lack of trust in the other, picking on a negative trait to accuse them of what they are capable of doing, even if they have not done so (Smith n.p).
Geoffrey Chaucer in the Miller’s Tale, explains Smith, expounds on these two different types of jealousies. The first kind is the one that arouses baseless suspicion and brings shame upon the couple and the second kind, which ensures that a woman does not commit adultery against her husband (Smith n.p).
It is apparent that the jealousy felt by the carpenter towards his wife is the right kind of jealousy. He understands that the wife is young and beautiful, and her head may be swayed by charming men her age, such as Nicholas. Hence, he illustrates a deep concern for her spiritual well-being by keeping close guard over her. It is his love for her that drives him to hold her so closely watched.
The miller, on the other hand, is driven by a baser type of jealousy; by exposing his wife’s shame in public, he makes it apparent that what bothers him is not her fall from grace but rather, how the deed reflects on him. By not having a grasp on the concept of godly jealousy, the miller ends up being the one who looks the fool instead of the carpenter as he intended.
Absolom, upon discovering the two lovers and being disgraced further by the act of kissing Alison, is engulfed in a jealous rage. His cannot be the right kind of jealousy that Chaucer exalts.
One, he is not married to Alison and thus has no right to be jealous of her actions. Secondly, he should not even be pursuing her, for she is a married woman. His shame for being rejected drives his jealousy, and the shame of being made for kissing Alison’s behind.
As is evident from “The Miller’s Tale” essay, his jealousy is self-righteous, like the miller’s feeling towards his wife, Absolom the clerk experiences jealousy that is self-serving. The last thought he has in mind is how to preserve Alison’s virtue. If this had been the case, he might never have pursued her in the first place.
It is interesting to note that while Charles Smith points out that jealousy in Christianity as was expected of love in medieval times demanded retribution, Alison gets off scot-free for her infidelity. It was the husband’s role to guard his wife’s virtue, as John attempts to do with Alison.
However, when she takes on Nicholas as her lover, then his anger and his wrath should have been so great that she should have felt it. Either he should have resorted to physical violence or ‘divorcement’ (Smith n.p) in the natural course of things.
But neither of these things happens. She gets away with the act unpunished; it is her husband who comes away from the worse for wear, with a broken arm and certified mad for believing in Nicholas’ apocalyptic prophecy of end-time floods.
The fact that John believes Nicholas false prophesies, as what crosses his mind first upon hearing them is his wife and her safety, that he is willing to go to the extent of hanging three wooden tubs in the attic goes to reinforce his genuine love for her. Indeed, his fierce protection of her stems from a sincere adoration, and miller’s jealousy dictates him to guard her virtue so carefully.
The Miller’s tale is an engaging read with an important moral lesson. It is much shorter than the Knight’s Tale, not exhibiting the lengthy dialogues that are the trademark of the Knight’s Tale.
It takes a lighter tone as well, with the events turning out quite contrary to how such medieval tales would have at the time. The cuckolding wife who gets away without criticism, the brazen and uncouth Nicholas whose advances are not snubbed, but instead he gets the girl, the romantic Absolom who should have been rewarded is made the fool.
Jealousy is a theme in “The Miller’s Tale” that recurs between the miller and his wife, and the subject of the miller’s tale- John the carpenter and his wife, Alison.
The miller sets out to tell a story that will subvert the virtues of love as portrayed by the knight, as being noble and chivalrous, and worth dying for. He describes love as callous, fickle, ridiculous, and leading to shame and disgrace. Part of the miller’s attitude arises from his troubled relations with his wife.
In attempting to make the carpenter look the fool, the joke is turned upon him for whereas the carpenter guards his wife’s virtue against a righteous sort of jealousy and love. As the critical analysis of “The Miller’s Tale” shows, the same cannot be said about the miller. In the end, he turns out to be the butt of his own joke.
Smith, R. Charles: “Jealousy: Chaucer’s Miller and the Tradition” The Chaucer Review 43 (1) 2008: 16-47. Web.
Literary analysis on the Canterbury Tales Analytical Essay
Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of “the Canterbury Tales”, exploits the degeneration, immorality, and subversion of the church. The Roman Catholic Church ruled or dictated the entire Europe by the end of nineteenth century. Besides being popular, the church build its cathedrals (buildings) using expensive metals like gold while the clergy lived a flamboyant lifestyle.
Although catastrophes like diseases, lack of employment, and food shortage marked the nineteenth century eon, the church possessed immense wealth while the clergies and the nuns lived a sedentary life at the expense of the catholic faithful.
Geoffrey Chaucer figures out the immorality and corruption of the church by using the clergy and the Pardoner who seem to be on commercial tour and not a pilgrimage. For instance, the Pardoner works in church and receives donations on behalf of the church but sadly, he does not give the donations to charitable organizations as expected but rather keeps the money for his personal use.
Ironically, he has the audacity to preach against greed yet he not only steals the papal signature to access the church funds, but also sells leaflets, which contain religious quotes like forgiveness and carries the bones of pigs, which he sells claiming they will shield the faithful against the devil.
The narrator taints the ‘reputation’ of the Catholic Church when he describes the immoral behavior of the monk and the priest as greedy persons with little or no intentions to serve the church or God for that matter.
The Friar, an employee of the church as a priest, receives criticism from other people in the town due to his inability to obey celibacy; he has intimate relationships with attractive women or attracts rich men from the town and promotes corruption through acceptance of bribery.
On the other hand, the monk defies the rule of staying in the monastery by wandering aimlessly around and about, which shows his love for food; therefore, the two men reveal the degeneration of morals in the church especially in the priesthood.
Through the description of the contrasting characters of the Summoner and the Parson, the narrator is able to draw the picture of the Catholic Church during the nineteenth century. The Summoner is an illiterate, drunkard, and irritating man infected with leprosy, but the church has bestowed him the role to monitor the people who break the catholic rules.
On the other hand, the Parson is a poor man who preaches the word of God and ensures he lives according to the word, therefore, in him the reader sees the character expected from the priests, monks, friars, and other church leaders. Thus, due to extreme corruption in the church, the faithful believers like the Parson live in abject poverty but commit themselves to God, which is contrary to the other clericals or church employees like the Summoner.
In summary, the Catholic faith is one of the ancient believes in the world but due to corruption, unfaithfulness, and moral degradation amongst Catholic leaders, the faith is increasingly becoming unpopular.
The employees like the Summoner and the Pardoner live against the Catholic teachings while the priests, monks, and nuns live a rich lifestyle. Finally, the Catholic leaders live a sedentary, immoral, and rich lifestyle at the expense of their faithful like the Parson who live in extreme poverty.
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Analytical Essay
Geoffrey Chaucer is famous for having written “The Canterbury Tales.” The tales touch on various topics such as corruption and marriage, and they also unveil the immoral nature of the clergy in the modern Catholic churches.
Chaucer writes his work in different ways. Sometimes he explains his thoughts and ideas in the tales, and at other times, he just uses a theme to explain what he meant. Sometimes, his characters put across the message. Chaucer had the intention that pilgrims would tell two tales each as they went to Canterbury from England, and as they came back from Canterbury.
However, he only managed to get the tales on the way to Canterbury only. Critics praise the tales for unfolding some of the evils existing among people in the society. This paper illustrates the character of two pilgrims; Wife of Bath and the Summoner as portrayed by Chaucer. This will provide an insight of how the characters influence and impact on contemporary societies.
The Wife of Bath is one of the pilgrims. The term Bath refers to a town along the Avon River in England. It is not her husband’s name as many people would presume. The woman is deaf on one ear, and she is proud of a gap on her upper jaw, between her two front teeth.
It is worth noting that such a gap was of high regard during the era of this pilgrimage, and also a symbol of beauty among women (Pearsall 66). She has no professional career but has a talent as a seamstress. She is a professional wife in the society. She has been on several pilgrimages in the world; thus, this pilgrimage to Canterbury is not the first one. It is imperative to note that she has been into the institution of marriage five times and when she was young, she had numerous premarital affairs.
She has a lot of experience in marriage, love and sex. She adorns herself in expensive clothes. She likes talking and arguing (Bisson 18). Moreover, she is intelligent. This comes out clearly through the denial of sexual pleasure to men until they give her whatever she asks for.
Another pilgrim is the Summoner. Chaucer portrays him as one of the most corrupt people in the pilgrimage. He belongs to the lower class of the society and Chaucer places him under the immoral people. He is filthy with acute signs of leprosy on his face (Bisson 37). He is a drunkard who frequents the drinking dens, and he irritates people from time to time, especially when he is drunk.
He utters some words in Latin just to show that he is a learned man. He is an unscrupulous person who lives by taking bribes (Pearsall 89). Supposedly, he should be a religious man who acts as a link between Christians and the secular world, but his worldly desires prevent him from doing so. This is evident where he exchanges a cooking pan from an old woman for twelve pence.
His position in the society is to take people who go against the law of the church to court. The irony here is that he takes law breakers to court, yet he is a law breaker. Bribery is unethical in the society, just like going against the law of the church. Therefore, he does not deserve his role in society.
In essence, Chaucer’s tales illustrate the situation in the contemporary society. There are several women engrossed with passion, money and sex just like the Woman of Bath. Similarly, there are numerous church leaders who see the mistakes of others, but never acknowledge their own mistakes. Thus, Chaucer’s tales enlighten the world on past experiences, which are also, evident in the modern societies. I would recommend the tales to all literature students and all lovers of knowledge.
Dante and Chaucer: The Divine Comedy and The Canterbury Tales Comparison
English literature is one of the most fascinating and interesting types of writing in the whole world. Lots of foreign masterpieces are translated into English to provide people with opportunities to enjoy these works in the international language. This is why world literature, including African, Asian, European, and American works, is usually presented in English.
Authors from different times and cultures add something new and unforgettable to the literature world and deserve to be analyzed during the literature classes. Dante Alighieri is considered to be one of the most famous Italian poets. His Divine Comedy, created in 1308, impresses plenty of readers even now.
Numerous writers used his style of writing after his death, and one of such followers was Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet, famous by The Canterbury Tales. Both Dante and Chaucer’s works have lots in common: the authors preferred to write about their journeys and describe people they met there, liked to put themselves into their works as integral parts of the plot’s development and chose the same vernacular writing style for most of their writing. This essay shall compare and contrast the stories of the authors.
Both Geoffrey Chaucer and Dante Alighieri wrote in the Middle Ages and were the two most famous and most celebrated writers of that period. “Both Dante and Chaucer were active in affairs of their times.” (Hetherington 179) Because of their occupations and abilities to travel and meet new people, they had excellent opportunities to use their life experiences in their works.
For example, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales general prologue talks about a group of people, whh try to find something to do during their traveling. “I had so talked with each of that presently/ I was a member of their company/ And promised to rise early the next day/ To start, as I shall show, upon our way” (Lawall 1702). Dante’s Divine Comedy, which consists of three parts, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, is about another traveling, the travel to Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, as the titles suggest it. Thus, both The Divine Comedy and The Canterbury Tales reflect medieval tradition of pilgrimage.
The main idea of both these stories is that people may change their preferences and styles of life during their traveling. New people, new places, and new emotions – this is what so important for humans to change their lives. It does not matter whether these lives are improved or wholly destroyed. Here, the primary point is the factor of change, and this is the only thing that matters.
Someone may say after a literary analysis that the writing styles of Dante and Chaucer are quite different. Well, of course, every author presents his/her vision of details in their narrations.
However, no one will argue that the vernacular style is the thing that is inherent to both of them. With the help of such language, Dante and Chaucer made their works more understandable to the public and reflected their ideas in traditional everyday speech. They both were connected to the economic sphere of life of their countries.
This is why money and language may be considered as significant analogs in their works. “The crowds, the countless, different mutilations/ had stunned my eyes and left them so confused/ they wanted to keep looking and to weep.” (Dante and Musa 335).
Another point in these both stories is the authors’ involvement in the development of the events in the story. Dante did not afraid to present himself as one of the characters in The Divine Comedy. The character of Dante speaks to several characters who present him with their own stories.
He analyzes, evaluates, and makes necessary conclusions. He is not stupid and has a lot in mind that will help to change this world. “I saw it, I’m sure, and I seem to see it still/ a body with no head that moved along/ moving no differently from all the rest.” (Dante and Musa 329) Chaucer, in his turn, is a kind of guide to the world of his stories. The Canterbury Tales is written in the vernacular and about common experiences.
He introduces each character and describes him/her from his perspective: “I told him his opinion made me glad/ Why should he study always and go mad/ mewed in his cell with only a book for neighbor?” (Chaucer and Morrison 58) However, the reader still feels the participation of the authors in both these stories. Such an author’s involvement makes a writer a bit closer to the reader so that the reader can comprehend what Dante or Chaucer wanted to say.
There are no “doubts that Chaucer read Dante’s Commedia.” (Taylor 1) It does not mean that Chaucer had no ideas to create something his own. The principal idea is his vision of the story, his desire to be a bit closer to his teacher, Dante. Not every writer can create something like The Divine Comedy, and Chaucer made a magnificent attempt and created an incredible story in Dante’s style with a variety of personal ideas and standpoints.
Writing about personal travels, using the vernacular writing style, and personal participation in the events of the story – this is what unites Dante’s and Chaucer’s works and makes both of them great masterpieces in the literature of the Middle Ages.
Chaucer, Geoffrey and Morrison, Theodore. The Portable Chaucer: Revised Edition. New York: Penguin, 1977.
Dante, Alighieri and Musa, Mark. The Divine Comedy: Inferno. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.
Hetherington, Norriss, S. Cosmology: Historical, Literary, Philosophical, Religious, and Scientific Perspectives. Taylor & Francis, 1993.
Lawall, Sarah. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. New York: Norton, 2006.
Taylor, Karla. Chaucer Reads “The Divine Comedy.” Stanford University Press, 1989.
The Canterbury Tales Research Paper
Geoffrey Chaucer the author of the book The Canterbury Tales was among England’s best poets. He was born at around 1340 in London. His father was a wine businessman and an assistant of King Butler. Geoffrey Chaucer’s life is not so understandable especially when we try to look at his early age that is from child hood until the time he started schooling.
Geoffrey became skilled at reading a number of languages such as French, Italian language, and even Latin. His skills as a diplomat as well as a public servant are alleged to have been obtained during his enthrallment with the public not forgetting the basics of his English knowledge.
During the year 1359 to 1360 Geoffrey Chaucer made a trip with the military of King Edward for war in France for the period of one hundred Years. He only came back to England later when the agreement of Bretigny was made and the King was compensated with a lot of money. Geoffrey Chaucer got married with Philippa Roet who was one of Queen’s ladies. He was blessed with four children this were two boys and two girls.
With a lot of pressure to take care of his family and other responsibilities Geoffrey Chaucer still remained in magnificent in his peripatetic services to places like Italy, Spain and even Flanders. However his peripatetic services had an immense influence on his occupation. Geoffrey Chaucer early scripts were mainly subjected by the customs of the French people who were more interested loved poetry so much. (Chaucer 43)
In most of his work Geoffrey Chaucer noted down using Middle English which was a type of English that was used quite many years back. Geoffrey Chaucer was given the title as being one of the earliest English poets who used poems in iambic pentameter apart from creating them effectively using vernacular language.
Geoffrey Chaucer has also been able to write quite a good number of poems such as The Book of the Duchess, House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls and The Legend of Good Women. Unfortunately Geoffrey Chaucer passed away on the 25th of October, 1400 in London. His funeral was done at a place called Westminster Abbey nowadays named as the Poet’s Corner. (Dean 57)
The Canterbury Tales of is nothing but a combination of funny, vulgar, and even emotional narratives that are enlightened by a cluster of imaginary pilgrims moving to a holy place most probably at St. Thomas. The Canterbury Tales was written towards the end of the 14th century and taken to be among the works done by the genius people in literature. This tales are in most cases notified as part of a story told by some kind of a group of people that are traveling.
Geoffrey Chaucer uses this tales together with the images of his characters to cover a sarcastic and significant description in an English community more especially the Church. Structurally this combination tolerates the control of Decameron by Geoffrey Chaucer in which rumors had to say that he was having transversely in his primary diplomatic operation toward Italy but then still peoples liked his tales. (Chaucer 110)
The Canterbury Tales was put in black and white during a chaotic instance in history. At the center of the Western division was the Catholic Church despite the fact that it was the only Christian influence in the whole of Europe. The Catholic Church became a topic of serious disagreement.
One of the initial English religious groups by the name Lollardy that was guided by John Wycliffe is stated in the Canterbury Tales, as a precise event concerning people who collected cash in substitute for forgiveness from sin. They asserted to be gathering for one of the hospital found in England by the name St. Mary Rouncesval.
The Political conflicts disclosed how complex the chaoses were when Geoffrey Chaucer was writing Tales. Many of Geoffrey Chaucer’s close associates were executed hence forcing him to shift to a place called Kent at least to distance himself from what was going on in London.
The Canterbury Tales echo various visions facing the Churches in England. Subsequently the passing away of Blacks and many Europeans started to raise questions regarding the influence of the customary Churches, Some people decided to intense fewer trails and hence forcing them to start fresh Spartan tips which exposed the corruption church. A number of characters found in The Canterbury Tales are spiritual facts, and the very background of the movement to the Canterbury is spiritual. (Dean 66)
The superior group that was symbolized primarily by the Knights with his Squire was in Geoffrey Chaucer’s time sheered in customs of politeness and loyalty. Aristocracies were anticipated to be influential soldiers who could be mercilessly on the battleground nevertheless gallant in the Christian and the King’s square in their proceedings.
Knights were anticipated to shape up a physically powerful communal tie with the gentlemen who wrestled in conjunction with them. However a powerful tie with a woman whom they romanticized in order to reinforce their hostility was too dignified to accomplishment hence frequently its contradictory principles degenerate into brutality.
The Canterbury Tales also continually reveal the disagreement among classes. For instance the separations of three estates, the characters are separated to three different classes. Conferences are only followed in case the Knight starts the match with a tale, because they signify the uppermost communal class in the set.
But then when they are tracked by the Miller, in this case who are signifying an inferior class, it positions for them an arena for the Tales in order to be a sign of both esteem and pay no attention to the superior class policy. (Chalmers 45)
Geoffrey Chaucer’s characters convey very much different observations of certainty hence creating an impression of relativism. It is clear that diverse genres can give diverse readings of the globe but the way fabliau barely observes the procedures of God, even the saint’s existence centers on those that are at the cost of substantial certainty regions and sermons. The pure figure of unreliable people and tales leaves the Tales at a position we are not capable to land at any specific fact or certainty.
The diversity of Geoffrey Chaucer’s tales illustrates the extent of the skills that he has not forgetting his acquaintance with innumerable metaphorical appearances and linguistic approaches. Medieval institutions of public speaking during that time supported such assortment and hence separating literature into an elevated focus and stumpy techniques when considered by the concentration of metaphorical forms and terminology. (Chaucer 187)
One more fashionable technique of separation was approached from St. Augustine and this mainly paid some extra attention on spectators’ reply but fewer on the theme. This made Geoffrey Chaucer to separate his literature work into. Authors were given confidence to inscribe in such a method that makes them to be more intelligent on the speaker’s topic and even the audience themselves.
Geoffrey Chaucer moved liberally among all these styles to show no preferential treatment to anybody. He also not only regards the readers of his efforts as the audience, but also as travelers inside the tale hence generating a multi coated metaphorical mystery of uncertainty. From this many people take Geoffrey Chaucer and his works thus far exceeding the capability of any other particular medieval hypothesis to come across.
On the other hand, Geoffrey Chaucer keeps away from aiming any precise audience or public class of people who read his work, centering as an alternative on his own characters, however he uses their account with an ability that is comparative to their social conditions and education. Starting from even characters like Miller, he shows some astonishing metaphorical skills even though their topic is more of having some mass appeal. (Chalmers 98)
The terminology employed in the Canterbury Tales also plays a significant element as it is in the senior classes were they refer a female as a lady at the same time the inferior classes also make use of the word wenche with no exclusions. Sometimes the same word can be used to have a different meaning completely between the two classes.
Take for example another word pitee for the superior classes it is taken to be a dignified idea while on the other hand the in some parts it is used to refer to sexual association. However the Canterbury Tales shows some amazing talents among the words both in the inferior classes.
In conclusion we can say that there is no any other work proceeding to Geoffrey Chaucer that we can say is recognized to contain a set of collected works like the Canterbury Tales inside the skeleton of travelers traveling. It is understandable however that Geoffrey Chaucer sometimes had to borrow some segment of his narratives from previous narratives hence making his work to be more subjected by the common circumstances of the fictional globe in which he resided.
Telling of stories was the major amusement in England during that time, and the competition of telling of stories had been there over the years for a very long time. For example in the 14th century there was a selected person in charge whose main work was to evaluate songs that were done in a group.
The victor of the songs could then be acknowledged with a crown. Likewise the victor of the Canterbury Tales was given dinner at no cost. It was ordinary for travelers who were traveling to choose one person as the head of service to direct in organizing their expedition.
Chalmers, Alexander. The works of the English poets. 8th ed. England: J. Johnson, 2009. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. England: Barron’s Educational Series, 1970. Print.
Dean, Larry. Canterbury tales. England: Houghton Mifflin, 1982. Print.
The Change of Meaning of the Word “Nice” Essay
Admittedly, all languages develop throughout centuries due to various reasons. The English language has been influenced by many factors. Thus, people always “invent” or simply borrow new words, and forget some old words. This is the case with a word which is now widespread.
The word “nice” was borrowed in 13th century from French and gradually it changed its meaning. Interestingly, first the word had a meaning of “foolish”, than acquired meaning “peculiar” and from the eighteenth century it changed its meaning to “good”, “lovely”. The present paper traces the change of the meaning of the word and touches upon the peculiarity of the use of the word which was not widespread in times of Chaucer and Shakespeare, but has become “popular” nowadays.
Material and Method
The present paper is based on such primary sources as Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and this year (this month) newspaper article taken from The New York Times. These sources help to trace the change of the meaning of the word “nice” from the thirteenth century, throughout sixteenth century, up to nowadays.
Admittedly, when reading works taken from such reputable sources, it is possible to analyze the meaning of the word and the frequency of its use by people living in different centuries. The paper also refers to secondary sources which consider the change of the word.
After having considered the use of the word by Chaucer it turned out that the author uses the word four times. At this point it is necessary to point out that the book by Chaucer and Hopper (1970) contains considerable part of the original collection of Chaucer’s tales. It is possible to state that the word was used quite frequently. The word is used in the meaning of “foolish”, “absurd” and “delicate” (in this case it is an attribute to the word “conscience”).
After analysis of Shakespeare’s (1750) play it turned out that the word nice was used only once. The meaning of the word in the play was “peculiar”. Notably, there was no negative connotation. The word meant positively peculiar, specific. Noteworthy, the play is quite a long piece of writing, so it is impossible to assume that the word was that widespread at that time.
Finally, the article by Krugman (2011) contains three words “nice”. The meaning of the word is “good”, “pleasant”, “positive”. Noteworthy, the article is not very long, so it is possible to state that the word is frequently used nowadays.
Before considering certain examples of the use of the word it is necessary to consider some theoretical information. Thus, according to Algeo and Pyles (2009) the word “nice” originates from Latin “nescius” which meant “ignorant”.
Reportedly, H. Stephens “informs” that the Old French word “niais” had a meaning of “foolish”, so Chaucer used the word “nice” in this meaning, and in the other meaning peculiar (The Canterbury Tales, 1775, p. 209). As far as modern meaning is concerned it “means no more than ‘pleasant’ or ‘proper,’ having become an all-purpose word of approbation” (Algeo and Pyles, 2009, p.214).
Thus, Chaucer used the word in the meaning it had in the language from which it was borrowed. Since the word can be found quite frequently in Chaucer’s work it is possible to assume that it was quite widespread in the contemporary English language. The word borrowed from French was “popular” and it was used in the same meaning.
It is possible to state that even now new words are borrowed from other languages. These words are used excessively due to their novelty. People reveal their knowledge and being aware of the latest trends by using such words. However, time goes by and the word can be forgotten or it can change its meaning. This was the pattern for the word “nice”.
In the end of the sixteenth century the word is not used so frequently. For instance, it appears once in Shakespeare’s play (1750). More so, the word changed its meaning. Shakespeare uses the word “nice” in the meaning of “peculiar”, “specific”, not “foolish” or “absurd”: “In terms of choice I am not folely led / By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes” (Shakespeare, 1750, p. 18).
Finally, nowadays the meaning of the word “nice” can be illustrated by Krugman’s (2011) article where he uses the word frequently in the meaning of “pleasant”. Now not all people know that the word which is used hundred times a day is French. It is perceived as an English word which “nicely” conveys idea of pleasantness and goodness. It is possible to state that the word obtain its second life with the new meaning.
On balance, it is necessary to point out that the word “nice” has a long story and it changed its meaning throughout centuries. The change of meaning was accompanied by the change in frequency of the word’s use. Initially, it was used frequently, later it was used occasionally, and nowadays it is a very widespread word.
The Canterbury Tales. (1775). London.
Chaucer, G., Hopper, V.F. (1970). Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Selected): An Interlinear Translation. New York, NY: Barron’s Educational Series.
Algeo, J., Pyles, T. (2009). The Origins and Development of the English Language. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Krugman, P. (2011, April 16). Civility is the Last Refuge of Scoundrels. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/16/civility-is-the-last-refuge-of-scoundrels/
Shakespeare, W. (1750). The Merchant of Venice. London.
“The Tale of the Wife of Bath” by Geoffrey Chaucer Analytical Essay
Through the narration of the Canterbury tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, the author, explicitly highlights the private life and behavior of the characters. For instance, from the General prologue and The Tale of the Wife of Bath, the reader is able to describe the Wife’s personality, physical appearance, and biography.
From her body appearance, though at old age, the Wife of Bath appears rich, sexy, and extravagant, which can tell more about her youthful days. Her clothing portrays her wealth; she has expensive footwear and stockings. Therefore, her mode of dressing portrays a modern woman well versed with the current fashion trends in her society.
Furthermore, the coordination or combination of her clothes and the color of the stockings (scarlet), which originates from a very rare dye that is not only expensive, but also extracted from red beetles. Thus, her physical appearance is both attractive and appealing to the eyes. Although age is catching up with her beauty, she tells how she used her body to extract money or gain wealth from men. In addition, her behavioral conduct presents her as a jumpy or cheeky but talented woman who can go an extra mile to achieve her personal goals.
The other most fascinating element about the Wife of Bath is her personality. Her moral character raises eyebrows; besides getting married to five men, she uses their sexual desires or weaknesses to force them accept her proposals. She is both a sadist and a wicked human being because when her fourth husband dies, she pretends to be mourning yet in her heart, she is extremely happy.
Moreover, she is joyful because she has a chance to get married to her fifth husband. When telling her experience, she is neither remorseful nor angry about her previous way of life. Though emotional, she confesses that her lust for wealth and sex always pushes her into seducing rich men. On the other hand, she admits to have loved her last husband who was youthful, abusive, and not rich as the others.
Despite being talkative, she intelligently has a way to succeed in a society that discriminates against women. She uses her wits to access wealth from men eventually becoming independent while her adventurous character enables her to travel all over the world. Therefore, the wife’s of bathe is an all round woman with dynamic attributes like wicked, liar, talkative, successful and intelligent.
Through her tale and prologue, the reader is able to outline denotatively the biography of the Wife of Bath. She was born, brought up, and married in England, a rich country. At a tender age of twelve, she got married to an old man. The marriage did not last because she married the second, third, fourth, and fifth husband. Her talent in dressmaking enabled her to have an expensive wardrobe.
There is no much description about her family or children but her pilgrimage career enabled her to travel to different parts of the world thus she has current information on different parts of the world. Although she is extensively involved in pilgrimage activities, she has a contradictory view about the patriarchal society especially on the teachings about marriage. Finally, through her husbands, she was able to gain a lot of wealth, which ushered her into success and independence as a woman.
In summary, the Wife of Bath has a diverse personal attributes ranging from intelligent to wickedness with an appealing physical appearance and from her description or autobiography, she is an expensive, independent woman from England.
Geoffrey Chaucer Research Paper
Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry, was the first who started writing in English, not in Latin, as writers and poets used to. No one knows for sure how he spent his early years of life as well as no one knows where he was after 1400. This year is considered as the date of his death. It should be stated that having written many poems which became popular during the life of this great person made him more respected and known after his death. Much time has passed, but this person is still remembered and his popularity does not do out.
Geoffrey Chaucer is an English writer who was the first to start writing in English while others wrote in Latin. Geoffrey Chaucer’s verses are perfectly formatted, structured and vivid. The problems he discusses in his verses are interesting and amazing. He has managed to dwell upon the simplest aspects in a very literary and serious language, all his poems are easily understood.
Reading Geoffrey Chaucer’s works, one may say that he is an idol and an example for his followers. Having written many works which changed the vision on literature in England, we know almost nothing about Geoffrey Chaucer’s life and death.
It is known for sure that Geoffrey Chaucer was born between 1340 and 1345, maybe in London. The first part of his life was devoted to wars and then to serving king and his kingdom. Starting writing his poems, he became popular soon. There is not much known about his life during those years, still it may be said that he was sent to diplomatic missions in different countries. He also worked on royal building projects.
The first work written by the poet was The Book of the Duchess, however only The Canterbury Tales brought him fame and popularity. It is unknown for sure which was the final work of the poet as well as we never know what he did before the death. It is essential to know that Geoffrey Chaucer disappeared from social arena in 1400 and it seemed that it were his last days. Geoffrey Chaucer was buried in Westminster Abbey (Geoffrey Chaucer, 2013).
Geoffrey Chaucer has written a lot of different works which seem to impress people nowadays. The first work The Book of the Duchess is devoted to John of Gaunt’s first wife written after her death. The poem is highly symbolic. The first part is rather boring due to the introduction of the narrators, but then, the discussion touches very important themes, such as life and death where white and black colors are used (Rudd, 2001).
The Canterbury Tales is the most popular work which consists of numerous stories most of which are poems while some of them are written in prose. The main idea of this collection of stories is a telling contest the main characters have created. Therefore, each story participates in it.
The more Geoffrey Chaucer’s poems I read, the more interesting and exciting this person becomes to me. Having written so many poems and prose, he also appears to be the contributor to the development of English language. Many authors of the modern time copy the structure and style of his writing.
Many of poet’s works are used as the basis for creating personal works. Thus, British academic Walter William Skeat has written a book devoted to Chaucer’s works, their interpretation and meaning in detail where he has used the author’s poems as the basis for studying English language of the 14th century (Chaucer, & Skeat, 2013).
Chaucer, G., & Skeat, W. W. (2013). Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, London: Cosimo, Inc.
Geoffrey Chaucer. (2013). BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/chaucer_geoffrey.shtml
Rudd, G. (2001). The Complete Critical Guide to Geoffrey Chaucer, London: Routledge.
Interpreting Dreams That Never Occurred: The Dream Sequence in The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Its Implied Concepts Essay
As history records show, feminism and Middle Ages are not quite compatible; despite the fact that the idea of women’s liberation was started way back in the Ancient Greece (DuBois, 2007), the Dark Ages set the evolution of a feminist movement back to the era of chauvinism and male dominance.
Despite men being predominantly satisfied with the given state of affairs at that time, humanist ideas were spawned by Chaucer ‘s The Canterbury tales in the era when women had little to no authority in the society, therefore, posing a number of marriage and relationship related ethical questions to the male part of the audience and encouraging women to pursue their independence in marriage, which The Clerk’s tale and the dream of the fifth wife in The wife of Bath’s prologue show in the most graphic way.
The fact that the fifth wife was willingly inclining the man that would later on become her fifth husband to murder her fourth one, whom she accused of beating her and having her will completely trodden under his feet, can also be interpreted as not only the demand for women to be free in their marriage, as well as free to choose their future husband, but also the need for a woman to be equal to her husband.
On the one hand, such interpretation seems impossible in the light of the oppression that women were under in the Middle Ages. Indeed, with the chauvinist ideas setting the course for social tendencies, as well as the principles for relationships between a man and a woman, the mere mentioning of equality would be absurd.
Nevertheless, the plea – or, perhaps, even a demand – for being treated fair can be easily read into every single phrase uttered by the fifth wife, not to mention the dream story that she crafted: “You say that just as worms destroy a tree, / Just so a wife destroys her own husband; / Men know this who are bound in marriage band” (Chaucer, n. d., lines 382–384).
In this regard, Clerk’s tale by Chaucer should also be mentioned. Also dealing with the subject of a woman’s role in marriage, it might be seen as a major retreat in Chaucer’s feminist endeavors, since the main storyline revolves around a woman being so devoted to her husband that she sacrifices her children and her happiness to serve him: “O Lord, I am willing / To do your will” (Chaucer, n. d.).
However, Chaucer still manages to state his opinion regarding equality in marriage: “But bow your neck beneath that blessed yoke / Of sovereignty and not of hard service, / The which men call espousal or wedlock” (Chaucer, n. d.).
Griselda, therefore, is a symbol of a wife, who admits her husband to be her master. While being aligned with the contemporary Christian principles of marriage, from a humanist perspective, the given concept is absurd, since in marriage, both a wife and a husband must be provided with equal rights; any other type of relationships can be classified as not marriage, but slavery.
In spite of the chauvinist tendencies of the Medieval society, as well as the lack of equality in relationship between a man and a woman in the Middle Ages, Chaucer managed to make a statement concerning the need to provide women with freedoms in their personal life.
While not stating the fact that women are equal to men directly, Chaucer conveys the given principle in his Canterbury tales in a very clear manner, making an especially explicit statement in describing the dream of the fifth wife and The Clerk’s tale. The tales that could easily be interpreted as a joke by Chaucer’s contemporaries, they planted the seeds for feminist principles to evolve from.
Chaucer, G. (n. d.). The clerk’s tale. Web.
Chaucer, G. (n. d.) The wife of Bath’s prologue. Retrieved from http://www.jsu.edu/depart/english/gates/wifebprt.htm
DuBois, E. C. (2007) Plato as a proto-feminist. Web.
The Knight: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Essay
The Knight is the narrator of the first tale in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The Knight’s character is the complete opposite of the knight in the Wife of Bath’s Tale who rapes a girl. During the group’s pilgrim to Canterbury the Host suggests a story telling competition. The Knight draws the shortest stick and tells his tale first (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2013). Getting to tell his tale first is a sign of his social standing in medieval England.
His tale is about a love triangle involving two knights and a woman. The two young knights, Arcite and Palamon, are prisoners of Theseus, Duke of Athens. While locked up in a tower they see Emelye in a nearby garden and fall in love with her. Later Arcite is set free but on condition that he never sets foot in Athens again.
The Knight presents us with the cruelty played by fate. Arcite is a free man but cannot access Emelye while Palamon can see Emelye but is in captivity. Arcite manages to make his way back to Athens in disguise. Palamon eventually escapes and bumps into Arcite singing about love and fortune.
A duel between the two is thwarted by the appearance of Theseus. The Duke organizes a proper duel between the two where the victor gets Emelye’s hand in marriage. Arcite prays to Mars for victory and Palamon prays to Venus to make Emelye his bride. Arcite defeats Palamon but falls off his horse before he can claim Emelye. Before dying he urges Emelye to marry Palamon. The gods had managed to grant both men their prayers (Finlayson, 1992).
Through his tale, the Knight depicts the knightly aspect of courtly love which was common in medieval Europe. Signs of courtly love in the tale include the two knights falling in love with Emelye at first sight and Arcite risking his life by coming back to Athens. Other displays of courtly love include the mass duel to win Emelye’s love. In courtly love easy attainment of love was of little value (Lords and Ladies, 2013).
The Knight is the ideal medieval crusader. He is brave, a man of honor and morally upright. The tale the Knight tells is full of knightly noble ideals. Chaucer describes him as one who has never spoken a harsh word to anyone (Finlayson, 1992). The Knight is also an idealist, demonstrating an aversion to conflict and gloominess.
In the Pardoner’s tale the Knight makes peace between the Host and the Pardoner. He comes across as the voice of reason in the group (Aers, 1980). He takes offence when the Pardoner tries to sell fake relics to the pilgrims. This further illustrates his morally upright character (A Knight’s Tale, 2002).
Despite being a well travelled and wealthy warrior, the Knight is not vain. Like one dedicated to the Christian cause he projects a humble and prudent image. His upright character is a strong contrast with other narrators such as the Miller and the Reeve. Unlike the Knight, the Miller is rude and contemptuous while the Reeve has a temper (Chaucer: The Knight’s Tale, 2013).
The Knight introduces the concept of justice and judgment to his audience. After Arcite is freed he asks the audience to consider the two knights and ponder on who is better off. (The Knight’s Tale, 2013).
The Knight is keen on creating meaning and order in matters that are ruled by passion and chance (Aers, 1980). He stops the Monk from finishing his tale which he reckons is too sad and gloomy. He prefers a story where the fortunes of the characters make a turn for the better.
Aers, D. (1980). Chaucer, Langland, and the creative imagination. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Encyclopedia Britannica (2013). The Canterbury Tales (work by Chaucer). Web.
Finlayson, J. (1992). The” Knight’s Tale”: The Dialogue of Romance, Epic, and Philosophy. The Chaucer Review, 27 (2), pp. 126–149.
Lordsandladies.org (2013). Courtly Love. Web.
Pathguy.com (2013). Enjoying “The Knight’s Tale”, by Geoffrey Chaucer. Web.
Public.wsu.edu (2013). Chaucer: The Knight’s Tale. Web.
Sites.fas.harvard.edu (2013). The Knight’s Tale (general note). Web.