Canterbury Tales Rhetorical Analysis

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In his lecture, Professor Doubleday presents Chaucer as a ventriloquist, who relied on the voices of the characters in the Canterbury Tales to express his ideas regarding the society that he lived in. Professor Doubleday uses the point that Chaucer depends on irony to support his thesis, but points out that there are a few characters that are an exception. While I agree with his thesis, every character throughout Canterbury Tales is an example that proves the main thesis, even if not through irony.
As stated, Chaucer used irony as a running theme in the Canterbury Tales, where the presentation of certain characters contradicts the norms and expectations of his or her profession. This is demonstrated by a majority of the religious figures
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While they do not correspond with Doubleday’s point on irony, they do, however, agree with his overall thesis: of Chaucer using them as social commentary. The primary examples of these exceptions are the Knight, the Parson, and the Ploughman. The reason for their exception is because they represent the three estates of 14th century England; the nobility, the clergy, and the laboring class. During this time of change, these three represent the past. The Knight, along with his Squire, is the epitome of nobility. They live to serve, following the concepts of chivalry, loyalty, and dignity. They know how to ride a horse, and participate in jousts as well. They do their job because they have a passion for it, unlike the Physician, who instead of having a love of medicine, has a love of the money it provides him…show more content…
He represents a simple lifestyle, one that consists of meager living and doing what he needs to do to get by. He is described as “a good and faithful labourer” who lived “in peace and perfect charity” . Being the brother to the Parson, it’s understandable for him to be a simple, God-fearing lower class citizen, expecting nothing more than what he earns. His meager living heavily juxtaposes that of the Merchant and his fellow craftsmen. These fellows, also having belonged to the third estate of laborers, represent the “political conflict between the ‘crafts’ in London in the last decades of the fourteenth century.” . While they should be living a meager life, like the Ploughman, they are actually doing much better. This established by the way they adorn themselves: the Merchant with his “boots with expensive clasps” and the craftsmen who “were in the uniform livery / Of a dignified and rich fraternity” . These characters represent the shift in society initiated by the social/political revolution taking place, as those who used to live simple lives now climb to the top of the social ladder. Chaucer even goes as far as to describe them as looking “like a burgess”, which further emphasizes just how much wealth they’ve accumulated through their crafts. Characters such as the Knight, Parson, and Ploughman are the static figures that enable the reader to easily notice
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