Canterbury Tales Figurative Language Analysis

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Expectations usually come when a new person tells you a description about themselves. For example, when someone introduces themselves as a lawyer, upright, deceitful, and being able to argue with others are associated with the one word. Yet, Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales defies these expectations when introducing a person and then describing the opposite of what the reader expected. Under deeper analysis, Chaucer is seen to emphasize certain characteristics through figurative language. Within lines 413-446, Chaucer emphasizes the doctor’s contrasting qualities through the imagery, alliteration and rhyming couplets. The narrator introduces the doctor as one who uniquely practices medicine. But contrastingly, the doctor is an educated in…show more content…
For example, words such as “surgery”, “schooled”, “star signs”, “source”, “sick”, “send”, “superfluity”, “study”, “silk”, “saved”, and “start” are seen throughout the passage. These words imply contradictions because the narrator describes the doctor as a doctor of “medicine and surgery” (ln 415), but then immediately explains he is “schooled well in astrology” (ln 416). The first description establishes credibility that the doctor studies medicine and can treat patients. But this characteristic is contradicted when explained the doctor studied astrology. In a similar way, the “star signs govern[ed] his patient” (ln 420), but “he saved what he earned in pestilences” (ln 444). Perhaps this contradiction is Chaucer questioning the credibility of the ‘doctor’. Doctors are seen to heal and treat the patients, yet numerous times in the passage is the doctor described as being trained in medicine but relying on the stars as treatment. The bubonic plague struck Europe in the fourteenth century when this narrative was written, indicating the doctor helped treat those who have fallen ill to the disease. Overall, the emphasis on words that start with s implies the incompetency of the doctor, though “Chaucer’s contemporary, lists studiousness among the qualities required of a good physican”
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