Parody On Chaucer Essay

1536 words - 6 pages

Chaucer’s book The Canterbury Tales presents a frame story written at the end of the 14th century. It narrates the story of a group of pilgrims who participate in a story-telling contest that they made up to entertain each other while they travel to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Because of this, some of the tales become particularly attractive for they are written within a frame of parody which, as a style that mocks genre, is usually achieved by the deliberate exaggeration of some aspects of it for comic effect. Chaucer uses parody to highlight some aspects of the medieval society that presented in an exaggerated manner, not only do they amuse the readers, but also makes them reflect on them. He uses the individual parody of each tale to create a satirical book in which the behaviours of its characters paint an ironic and critical portrait of the English society at that time. Thus, the tales turn satirical, ironic, earthy, bawdy, and comical. When analysing the Knight’s and the Miller’s tale, one can realise how Chaucer mocks the courtly love convention, and other social codes of behaviour typical of the medieval times.

“The Knight’s Tale”, for example, uses the concept of a knight not only to parody the concept of the hero, but also to question the well-established courtly love convention. This last concept refers to a set of ideas about love that was enormously influential on the literature and culture of the medieval times for it gave men the chance to feel freely. Also, it gave women the opportunity to be an important element in the story – not only decorative. However, when scrutinizing the tale, the readers can realise that all the aspects of a knight’s love are exaggerated and conveyed through an absurd behaviour. The first element that shows this comical view of the knight can be found when Palamon and Arcite begin an argument over who saw Emily first, and therefore, who is truly in love with her. The lines “For par amour I loved her first, you know. /What can you say? You know not, even now/ whether she is a woman or goddess!” reveal a quite childish behaviour of the knights, which makes the characters later turn irrational. This can be appreciated in the “whether she is a woman or goddess” line, where the reader can see through these two poles of a woman - the mortal and the goddess- that one of the knights is so blinded by the beauty of this woman in such a way that he cannot think straight even in the surface of the situation – physical appearance. Later on, they abandon themselves completely in order to dedicate their lives to a woman who is not even aware of their existence “To love my lady, whom I love and serve, / and shall while life my heart’s blood may preserve”. In this last line, we can appreciate the speaker exaggeration as we know that one’s heart’s blood preserve even after death; a word choice that conveys the image of passionate love and of parody of courtly love. Moreover, as the story...

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