Canterbury Tales Prologue Essay

Chaucer draws on pastoral and divine imagery to present Emelye as the perfectly feminine love object, comparing her beauty to fresh May flowers and her singing to that of heavenly angels.Palamon is a royal knight who feels as if he is pierced in the heart when he sees Emelye.

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The knight pining for the beautiful maiden fits the conventions of courtly love exactly; however, Chaucer refuses to make this a straightforward tale.

Rather than battle beasts or foreign enemies to win his lady, as we might expect, Palamon must instead fight his closest friend, Arcite.

The hot-tempered Reeve, a carpenter by profession, responds in kind.

The Wife of Bath baits the Monk, who has interrupted her.

Rather, the tale shows how love can inspire jealousy, which can lead unexpectedly to violence and sorrow.

The Wife of Bath’s Tale moves us further away from an idealized depiction of courtly love.

Finally, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale presents a comic parody of courtly love, set in a most atypical setting.

In an old widow’s barnyard, we are introduced to a magnificent cock named Chanticleer who loves a “faire damoysele,” the hen Pertelote.

The tales also vary, illustrating popular medieval genres: romance, fable, saint’s life, fabliau (a coarse, comic tale), exemplum (a story designed to illustrate the theme of a sermon).

Chaucer the pilgrim burlesques a type of popular romance, but his satirical purpose goes unrecognized and the Host will not allow him to finish.


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