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In this video, we will discuss Geoffrey Chaucer, his work The Canterbury Tales, and Satire,
which is a genre that The Canterbury Tales is often categorized within.
Part of setting yourself apart is your story -- who are you? where did you come from? where
are you going?
Through Sir Gawain's failure, we have already seen that living up to society's ideals is
not an unreachable goal, but may be a goal that is difficult to reach consistently or
repeatedly.
Through modern pop culture, we see celebrities, athletes, and politicians repeatedly fail
to live up to the ideals society has laid down for each group. Perhaps a movie star
ends up on house arrest for drug possession. Maybe an athlete is humiliated when he succumbs
to the temptations of alcoholism. Too, a politician may be accused of cheating on a spouse or
taking bribes.
If the stars can't deliver, how can we be expected to?
Enter Geoffrey Chaucer. An expectation for writers in his time period -- the Middle Ages
-- was that writers from England wrote in French or Latin. Chaucer, though, chose to
write in Middle English, which gave the "common man" access to his writing, since French and
Latin were the languages of the educated upper class.
Along those same lines, Chaucer's characters are a variety of upper, middle, and lower
class people -- innkeeper, cook, parson, nuns, merchant, physician, and more -- whom Chaucer's
audience would have no trouble relating to or understanding.
The premise of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is that this varied group of people meet at
an inn, and all intend to travel to the Canterbury Cathedral, where a shrine exists to honor
the saint and martyr, Thomas Becket. The people at the inn are called pilgrims -- not the
ones who sailed over to America -- but ones who are going on a pilgrimage, or holy journey,
to Canterbury Cathedral.
Now, you would expect anyone on a pilgrimage, or holy journey, to be religious, a good person,
or at least trying to achieve goodness.
What Chaucer shows us, instead, is a group of reasonably sinful and/or misguided individuals
who are far from the holy ideal, and who don't seem particularly concerned with what might
be considered noble behavior. Sound familiar?
These less-than-perfect pilgrims agree to participate in a gambling venture, which involves
each of them telling a story. The best story wins.
Chaucer never finished writing The Canterbury Tales, but what he did finish of it serves
as a satire of social expectations in the Middle Ages. For example, the Middle Ages
expected that women should be quiet and obedient, but the pilgrim called the Wife of Bath has
been married six times, and is fiercely independent, endlessly clever, and more than somewhat charming.
Another pilgrim, the Pardoner, whose job it is to grant forgiveness of sins, routinely
preaches about the dangers of greed in order to get the church-goers to give up their money.
He has become very wealthy through this tactic of reverse psychology. Additionally, though
you might not expect a clergyman to tell dirty jokes, Chaucer writes that the other pilgrims
expect pardoners to have a sick sense of humor.
As the pilgrims travel on horseback towards Canterbury Cathedral, they take turns telling
their stories. Some are funny, some sad, some shocking, and some cautionary.
All of this storytelling, both by the narrator and by the characters themselves, falls into
the literary category of satire.
What is satire? Generally, satire is humorously making fun of man's shortcomings in order
to shame him into better behavior. Often, these shortcomings will be exaggerated in
satirical literature, so that the shortcomings are more easily seen than they might otherwise
be.
An important part of satire is irony, where actions and outcomes contradict custom or
expectation. Chaucer masterfully uses satire in The Canterbury Tales in order to demonstrate
the weaknesses of mankind, while also celebrating the variety inherent in any group of individuals.
This course is centered around actions and outcomes contradicting custom or expectation.
Setting yourself apart is, for better or for worse, an attainable goal. While Sir Gawain
tried to reach the unsustainable ideals of chivalry, the narrator in The Canterbury Tales
sets his traveling companions apart through their shortcomings and hypocritical behavior.
コツ:単語をクリックしてすぐ意味を調べられます!

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Chaucer, Satire, and The Canterbury Tales Notes

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Chia-Yin Huang 2016 年 12 月 6 日 に公開
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