Chaucer's Canterbury Tales Essay

2104 words - 8 pages


Following the fall of the great Roman Empire a new age was born, the age of knights in shining amour and the great kings in stone castles. Yet, it was also a chaotic time, War and plague was a disease upon Europe. Countries fought for land, resources, and above all, the attention of God. The world was young and so was the English Language. Few writers wrote in English, the language of the commoners, as French and Latin was the Language of the powerful élite. Yet one writer dared to speak against the feudal society of which he was born into. Geoffrey Chaucer served most of his life in the employment of the crown, as both a soldier and a clerk. Yet through all of these titles, Chaucer would be forever immortalized as Geoffrey Chaucer the writer, and the Satirist. The true goal of any Satire is to point out the flaws in certain aspect of society, while also inspiring reform to that very same aspect in one way or another. In Chaucer’s Canterbury tales, Chaucer satirizes the corruption Catholic Church and those associated. Chaucer saw that hypocrisy polluted the pureness of the church and expressed his disillusionment through the use of satire. Fearless of discommunication Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of satire, dared to speak openly of the absolute corruption of the medieval church.
Medieval society was centered on the flawed Catholic Church, where hypocrisy and corruption poisoned the purity of religion. When one individual spoke against the way the church‘s way, the church would simply retaliate. One such example is that of Joan of Arc, a French farm girl turned soldier. The Church was outraged at her choices, performing deeds that were reserved for men. Joan wore men’s clothing and wore her hair short as to avoid being the subject of a man’s desire. She did not accept her assigned role as an illiterate woman, and therefore the church labeled her a threat. Joan also claimed to be doing the direct work of God, and gathered many followers. The Archbishop believed that he was the one who was here to do God’s work “…by the authority of the Church and my sacred office” (Shaw 132). The Church searched frantically to find enough reasons to have her executed, as they feared more would follow in her footsteps. She was discommuned from the church and immediately burned at the stake. Not only did the church give Joan a ticket to Hell, but they made sure she got there as soon as she possibly could. In relation to Joan of Arc, Chaucer was more or less in the same situation. He openly criticized the church in a way that would inspire the common people of Medieval Europe to change. He was confident enough to publish his work in hopes of not attracting the wrath of the church. Whether or not the church noticed or not is unknown. Yet, Chaucer criticized the church in a way that could hide his true intentions, thus becoming the first English satirist and the father of English Satire.
Satire involves the writer pointing out the obvious flaws in one society...

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