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Interrelation of the Heroes and the Setting in the Canterbury Tales

The characters introduced in the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales every represent a stereotype of a kind of particular person that Chaucer would have been familiar with in 14th Century England. Every character is exclusive, but embodies numerous physical and behavioral traits that would have been widespread for somebody in their profession. In preparing the reader for the tales, Chaucer very first sets the mood by offering an overall notion of the type of character who is telling the tale, then allows that character to introduce themselves through a individual prologue and finally, the pilgrim tells their tale. By means of supplying the reader with insight about the physical and personal traits of the pilgrim and then allowing that particular person to come to life and inform an animated story, the reader is far more ready for the story as nicely as able to relate the physical description to the telling of the story. The physical and individual descriptions of the Miller, the Wife of Bath and the Merchant all help in the telling of their tales. Chaucer was capable to generate tales that had been completely suited for the characters that are presenting them. In possessing each and every tale told by somebody who has a personal cause or motivation for telling that certain tale, Chaucer creates a lot more of a reaction from the reader as effectively as offers the entire operate with structure.

The Miller is huge and imposing person who personifies a crooked, but likeable businessman. In “The Basic Prologue,” Chaucer describes the Miller as having a “thombe of gold, (563)” which the footnote on page 32 of The Riverside Chaucer notes, “is an ironic reference to a proverb, with the implication that there are no truthful millers.” The description and actions of the Miller help the thought of this proverb. Though the Miller is rude, speaks out of turn, acts inappropriately and tells a tale that is centered on deceit and betrayal, he is also jovial and entertaining. In spite of this unflattering introduction, however, the Miller can't be regarded a loathsome individual because his objective is to provide comic relief. The Miller’s appearance following the far more solemn Knight creates a contrast in mood and gives the reader with a a lot more relaxed feeling going into the remainder of the tales.

The Miller is described as a much less than desirable man. His portrait is produced in the following way:

He was quick-sholdred, brood, a thikke knarre,

– His berd as any sowe or fox was reed,

And therto brood, as although it had been a spade

Upon the cop appropriate of his nose he hade

A werte, and thereon stood a toft of heres

Reed as the brustles of a sowes eres

Hise nosethirles blake have been and wyde.

(“The Basic Prologue,” 551-559)

These physical descriptions “were believed by the physiognomists to denote variously a shameless, talkative, lecherous, and quarrelsome character (Riverside Chaucer, 820: PMLA 35, 1920, 189-209).” Like his look, his personality is also depicted as being extremely loud and disturbing. He is depicted in the way that a young boy would be, only with the strength of a big adult. The Miller acts out and rams his head against doors, which is a frequent trait of a two year old, even so, he is so large that it is said that:

Ther was no dore that he nolde heve of harre,

Or breke it at a rennyng with his heed.

(“The Basic Prologue,” 552-553)

Also, likening him to an adolescent he tells dirty jokes:

He was a janglere and a goliardeys,

And that was moost of synne and harlotries.

(“The General Prologue,” 562-563)

All of these are annoying, but comical traits. Moreover, the colour red in his face and hair can be interpreted in two distinct techniques. 1 interpretation given is that, “The redhead is a widespread figure of deceit and treachery. (Riverside Chaucer, 820)” The other interpretation of the use of the colour red would imply that his personality is sanguine and that he is exciting loving. His description supports both of these suggestions, even so, the significance of the red seems to be in its creation of a comical mood about the Miller that is carried by the reader into his tale. General, the introduction of the Miller in “The Common Prologue,” leaves the reader with the picture of a loud, unattractive, red man, which appears acceptable given the Miller’s next appearance.

Soon after the Knight has concluded his tale, the Miller rudely interrupts the host, who is asking the Monk to take his turn. The Miller then insists that he be the next to inform a tale and “quite the Knights Tale. (“The Miller’s Prologue,” 319)” He is obviously drunk and even admits that his speech might be a tiny off simply because of his situation. The Miller tells the reader that he should hold this in thoughts before he starts to tell his tale:

But very first I make a protestacioun

That I am dronke I know it by my soun.

And therefore if that I mysspeke or seye,

Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I you preye.

(“The Miller’s Prologue,” 3138-3141)

The narrator then, ahead of allowing the Miller to start the telling of his tale, urges the reader to find another tale to study prior to they are offended and waste their time listening to the Miller:

And for that reason, whoso list it nay yheere,

Turne over the leef and chese an additional tale,

For he shal fynde ynowe, grete and smale,

Of storial issue that toucheth gentillesse,

And eek moralitee and holynesse.

Blameth nat me if that ye chese amys.

The Millere is a cherl: ye knowe wel this.

(“The Miller’s Prologue, ” 3176-3182)

By way of providing the reader the guidance to turn away from the telling of this story, Chaucer is only enticing them and piquing their curiosity about the tale that the Miller is so eager to share. Although the Miller is vulgar and offensive, he is appealing. The likeability of the Miller and his tale is comparable to his physical traits in that despite the fact that they are unattractive on the surface and even in undesirable taste, general, they are really amusing.

“The Miller’s Tale,” is an obvious parody of “The Knight’s Tale” only it is in the form of a reduced class Fabliau. Both stories contain a central enjoy triangle, however, the progression of the stories and the mood of the stories differ drastically. Unlike “The Knight’s tale,” “the Miller’s tale,” is full of quick wit and at the finish of the tale all of the characters get what they deserve and seem to be somewhat happy with the outcome. Like, the Miller’s character, his tale is lighthearted and extremely entertaining. Even though “The Knight’s Tale,” offers a lesson on courtly love and traditional marriages, the relationsip among Alisoun, John, Nicholas, and Absolon mocks the values that have been expressed by the Knight. In the essay, “Personality and Designs of Influence,” Irma Taavititsainen explains the part of courtly really like in “The Miller’s Tale,” in the following way:

The reversal of courtly romance is explicit in the portraits of Alison and Absolon-No trace of the emotional loading of the contemplative monologue of the Knight’s Tale is present the pace is fast enhancing the contrast- (229)

Additionally, the incorporation of a flood in the story alludes to a religious theme, nonetheless, the humorous function that the flood requires inside the action of the story can be deemed “blasphemous (Taavitsainen 230).” Considering the character of the Miller that the reader has been exposed to, these themes look acceptable and like his manner, the story is crude, but likeable. Taavitsainen notes that as a narrator, the Miller’s character plays a essential part in generating the mood and evoking reactions from the reader in the tale:

Readers are guided by way of the story, and are asked to pay attention to certain points, appreciate the apprehensions and sudden turning points of the plot and laugh at the characters. The Miller is in charge and controls the reader’s reactions, and he is really skillful in doing so. (“Personality and Designs of Have an effect on,” 231)

The Miller represents himself really truthfully in his tale and there is a definite consistency among the obnoxiousness of the Miller’s appearances within the dialogue of the “The Canterbury Tales,” and the variety of tale that he tells.

The description provided to the Wife of Bath is very diverse from the 1 offered to the Miller. She has been married 5 instances and admits that she will “Welcome the sixte, whan that evere he shall, (“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” 45).” Within these marriages, she is undoubtedly controlling and, as is demonstrated by her story, she believes that the lady ought to be in charge. Even though The Wife of Bath seems to be the ideal example of a lady who would match beneath the contemporary definition of getting independent, Chaucer fails to describe her in a way that corresponds with a woman who is totally in control of her own life. She is presented as an aggressive, spirited, wealthy lady, whose whole life has revolved about the lives of her husbands. In her article “Feminism or Anti-Feminism: Pictures of Females in, The Wife of Bath,” Annie White explains how the name Chaucer gave The Wife of Bath is representative of her dependence on males in the following way:

Despite [her] talent and position as a enterprise owner, Alison nonetheless relies on her husbands for wealth and status. Even though Alison in her personal appropriate is an achieved artisan, she is seldom noticed as her own particular person. Other individuals on the voyage to Canterbury are referred to by their name and occupation, for instance the Clerk and the Merchant, but Alison is referred to as the wife of Bath. This shows that her value lies within her sexuality or marital status. She is not a particular person or even an artisan she is merely a wife. (No Page quantity given)

In addition, her dress, personal prologue and tale, demonstrate the value that she areas on the males in her life. These descriptions only prove to make her appear to be significantly less of a strong, independent woman, and far more of “A excellent wif (“The Common Prologue,” 447).” Her physical characteristics and tale express that not only is marriage and the woman’s function within the marriage crucial, but that till there is an understanding that the woman is in charge inside the marriage, a man and a lady are unable to reside in peace.

The Wife of Bath is dressed in a fashionable, somewhat ostentatious wardrobe that is each meant to show her wealth as nicely as attract males. She is wearing a large hat and red stockings:

Hir coverchiefs ful fyne weren of ground

I dorste swere they weyeden ten pound

That on a sonday weren upon hir heed.

Hir hosen weren of fyn scarlet reed,

Ful streite yteyd, and shoes ful moyste and newe.



(“The Basic Prologue,” 452-457)

The color of her stockings, in certain, is considerable, considering that, like the Miller, her face is also described as “reed of hewe (“The Common Prologue: 460).” In this case, the colour red strongly implies a sanguine character, which is far more than demonstrated by her flirtatious and playful tone as effectively as her sexuality, which defines her as the main woman and sex object on the Pilgrimage. In his article “Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s ‘Foot-Mantel’ and her ‘Hipes Huge,'” Peter G. Beidler focuses on a feasible misinterpretation of lines 471-474 of “The Basic Prologue”:

Upon an amblere esily she sat,

Ywympled wel, and on hir heed an hat

As brood as is a bokeler or a targe

A foot-mantel aboute hir hipes huge,

Beidler asserts that the entire image of The Wife of Bath can be reevaluated if the word big can be interpreted as an adverb rather than an adjective:

Most of us have imagined her as a large, robust woman who is totally capable of defending herself in the rough-and-tumble arenas of medieval enterprise, pilgrimage and marriage. If these imaginings are not necessarily supported by Chaucer’s text, we need to reconsider her possible physical vulnerability to her husbands.

This interpretation suggests that the world large is describing her leggings or clothing becoming hung largely about her hips. This is possible, nevertheless, it appears more probably that the mention of hips, in and of itself, is meant to symbolize a woman’s fertility and that by making her hips massive, Chaucer is only improving on her part as a excellent wife whose primary goal is to have children. Nevertheless, the physical description given to the Wife of Bath introduces her as a really feminine and outgoing woman, who by way of her own prologue and tale embodies parts of what a man would take into account a threat as a wife as well as an excellent companion.

As the Wife of Bath describes the story of her five marriages the reader is shown that she is a manipulative and conniving lady who makes use of her many marriages in order to achieve a sense of empowerment. Within these marriages, she admits that she accuses her husbands of cheating on her in order to acquire the upper hand in a circumstance. The Wife of Bath considers marriage a game and has profited drastically from most of her husbands. She even suggests that a wife makes use of strategies and manipulation in order to get the better of her husbands in the following way:

Ye wise wyves, that kan understonde.

Therefore shul ye speke and bere hem wrong on honde

For half so boldely kan ther no man

Swere and lyen, as a womman kan

I sey nat this by wyves that been wyse,

But if it be whan they hem mysavyse.

(“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” 225-230)

The Wife of Bath insists on getting in manage and when she loses it, as she does with her fifth husband, Jankyn, it causes troubles within the marriage. Jankyn had a favourite book that recalled the a lot of vilified women in history and literature. This book, that the Wife of Bath referred to as a “book of wikiked wyves, (“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” 685)” was used by Jankyn to preach to her about how awful ladies are. Following becoming fed up with Jankyn’s obsession with this book, the Wife of Bath decides to use it as a way of manipulating him into providing her back her property. She initiates a violent act, which prompts him to hit her on the ear, at which she takes advantage of her femininity by acting as even though she has been seriously injured:

Al sodeynly thre leves have I plyght

Out of his book, right as he radde, and eke

I with my fest so took hym on the cheke,

That in oure fyr he ril bakward adoun.

And he up-stirte as dootha wood leoun,

And with his fest he smoot me on the heed

That in the floor I lay, as I had been deed.

(“The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” 790-796)

This altercation, although resulting in her going deaf in a single ear, ends the difficulties that the Wife of Bath was having receiving along with her husband. The Wife of Bath becomes quite emotional soon after Jankyn hits her and claims that she has been terribly hurt and that Jankyn has killed her for her cash. When realizing that he may have hurt her he offers to give her back her funds and house. This act restores order in the marriage. In her description of these events in “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” she appears almost proud of how she has affected Jankyn:

And whan he saugh how stille that I lay,

He was agast, and wolde han fled his way, –

But atte laste, with muchel care and wo,

We fille acorded by us selven two.

He yaf me al the bridel in myn hond,

To han the governance of hous and lond,

(795-814)

The Wife of Bath has been married since the age of twelve and has adapted herself to the part of being a wife. All through her many marriages she has discovered how to take control of her conditions and use her position as a woman to attain the upper hand in a marriage. Her tale, like her life, includes a lady who requires manage of a man and makes use of her feminine powers in order to have an advantage more than him.

The Tale that the Wife of Bath tells appears to parallel the story that she tells in her prologue of her marriage to Jankyn. Related to Jankyn, the Knight in her tale shows tiny respect for women in the beginning of the story. When alone in the forest he encounters a maiden and “By verray force, he rafte hire maidenhed.(“The Wife of Bath’s Tale,”888)” In order to steer clear of getting place to death he must learn “What thyng is it that ladies moost desiren, (“The Wife of Bath’s Tale,”905).” In order to save his life the Knight puts his trust into a strange lady who tells him the answer, which he trelays to the queen as:

Wommen desiren to have sovereynetee

As wel more than hir housband as hir love,

And for to been in maistrie hym above.

(“The Wife of Bath’s Tale,”1037-1039)

That the Knight is produced aware of a woman’s want being “to have sovereynetee, (“The Wife of Bath’s Tale,”1037)” is the general theme for not only the tale, but of the look of the Wife of Bath in her prologue. The Knight begins the story in a position of sexual dominance by committing a rape, and ends the tale by fully submitting to his wife (“The Wife of Bath’s Tale,”1230-1232). This demonstrates that the objective of the tale was to reveal that a man who submits to his wife could get a wife that is each “fair and very good (“The Wife of Bath’s Tale,”1241).”

Like the Wife of Bath, the Merchant utilizes his tale and prologue in order to provide his opinion of love and marriage. His views, nevertheless, are strongly opposing marriage. The Merchant, also equivalent to the Wife of Bath, tells a story that is closely linked to a private encounter. He explains in his prologue that he has been married two months (“The Merchant’s Prologue,” 1234) and in these two months he has turn into quite opinionated on the subject. In the essay “For craft is al, whoso that do it kan”: The Genre of the Merchant’s Tale,” Leigh A. Arrathoon explains that:

Even though the pretentious Merchant bitterly and somewhat squeamishly relates what he perceives as a story exemplifying the wickedness of wives, the statement Chaucer is generating involves the responsibility of lecherous husbands for their own marital misery. (241)

Additionally, the character of the Merchant seems to be opposite to the Wife of Bath in every way. His description, character and tale all embody the masculine traits that the Wife of Bath might attempt to oppress inside a marriage. Nevertheless, the Merchant seems just as consumed by his disgust for marriage as the Wife of Bath seems to be dependent on it.

In “The Common Prologue,” the Merchant is described as a devilish man with a “forked berd (“The Basic Prologue,” 270).” Like his opinions that seem prior to and soon after his tale, the Merchant sits “hye on horse (“The General Prologue,”271).” He is obsessed with profit and is, as was common of a merchant in the 14th century, described in a way that embodies such merchant-like traits as “avarice, deceit, and usury (Riverside Chaucer, 809).” The Merchant, like the Miller, is presented in a constructive light. It is repeated a number of instances that he is a “worthy man. (“The Basic Prologue,” 283).” Thinking about the length of his total description this appears to be a fairly crucial point that Chaucer was trying to make. His profession appears to be honorable and his character seems to be pretty common of a Merchant. Nevertheless, the Merchant is distinguished by his views on marriage, which seem to compliment his organization sense. He appears to feel that girls are a waste of time and produce troubles, and he would most likely much rather study income than be bothered with issues that arise in his marriage. These qualities are extremely diverse from the Wife of Bath who, even though in enjoy with Jankyn, gave up all of the cash that she had amassed from her four former husbands. The Merchant’s physical description appears easy, just as his thoughts appears straightforward and as is demonstrated by his tale, his message is really brutal and he makes his point really clearly.

“The Merchants Tale,” is very sexual and humorous, like “The Miller’s Tale,” nevertheless, it is also like “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” due to the fact it supplies a lesson to the reader about marriage. The primary character, Januarie, is portrayed as a man who is blind to several elements of what the Merchant feels are difficulties with females. This is first evident when Januarie, against his brother’s tips, believes that he can have a profitable marriage with a much younger lady, Could. When Januarie loses his vision, he foolishly believes that if he is in constant speak to with her, Might will not uncover a way to be two-timing to him. Januarie’s blindness becomes most apparent, then, when he regains his sight and witnesses May having sex with her young lover, Damyan, in a tree. When he realizes what Could is performing, Januarie demands that she answer for her deeds, to which she responds:

-Sire, what eyleth yow?

Have pacience and resoun in youre mynde.

I have yow holpe on bothe youre eyen blynde.

Up peril of my soule, I shal nat lyen,

As me was taugh, to heele with youre eyen,

Was no factor bet, to mke yow to see,

Than struggle with a man upon a tree.

God woot, I dide it in ful very good entente.

(“The Merchant’s Tale,”2368-2375)

Januarie forgives Might and proves that even though his physical blindness has been cured, he is nonetheless blind to the treacherousness of ladies. As the Merchant explains in his prologue he does not have a effective marriage. Arrathon suggests that although, like Januarie, the Merchant should have as soon as been optimistic about his marriage and since then has gained the damaging views that he presents in his prologue and tale:

It is as although he [The Merchant] were painting an exageratdly hideous self portrait. -his spiritual falling away should be a current improvement-a single that has taken location considering that his marriage of two months ago. (281)

The character of the Merchant presents a fully distinct view of marriage than the Wife of Bath, and as is expected, his physical appearance and mannerisms are likewise quite various.

The appearances of characters of the Wife of Bath, the Miller and the Merchant within The Canterbury Tales, represent a effectively thought out structure that Chaucer gives for the whole work. Each and every character serves a objective as a character on pilgrimage as effectively as a single who has a personal message to offer you through the telling of their tale. Even though the characters of the Wife of Bath, Miller and Merchant are really diverse from each and every other and has quite distinct messages to offer you, each of these characters serve a similar function within the larger operate. Through a thorough development of their personalities, Chaucer makes use of the pilgrims as instruments to illustrate a network of interlocking stories inside a bigger and equally entertaining story.

Operates Cited

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales: Riverside Chaucer Third Edition. Ed. Larry D. Benson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Organization,1987. 3-328 Secondary

Arrathoon, Leigh A. “For craft is al, whoso that do it kan: The Genre of the Merchant’s Tale,” Chaucer and the Craft of Fiction. Ed. Leigh A. Arrathoon, Rochester, Michigan: Solaris Press, Inc. 1986. 241-318

Beidler, Peter G. “Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s ‘Foot-Mantel’ and Her ‘Hipes Large'” Chaucer Review Vol: 34, Issue: 4. April 01, 2000. 388-397

Taavitsainen, Irma. “Personality and types of Influence in the Canterbury Tales” Chaucer in Point of view. Ed. Geoffrey Lester.Midsomer North, Bath: Sheffield Academic Press Ltd. 1999. 218-232

White, Annie “Feminism or Anti-Feminism: Photos of Women in Chaucer’s ‘The Wife of Bath,'” 20 Jan. 2001. <http://www.classicnote.com/ClassicNotes/titles/canterbury/essays/essay5.html>
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