Media In The Canterbury Tales

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Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, A Medieval Era Media? In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer sets a clear set of stories. Everything is planned and introduced to us beforehand. Prior to diving in to the tales, the General Prologue is brought forward. We are told about the reasons for the gathering of the pilgrims and who those pilgrims are. Each and every one of them are described. Despite the fact that we only get a brief, most of the time, physical description of the pilgrims, it is somehow always subtly linked to the stories they are about to tell. Following the General Prologue, we come across a prologue to the characters’ tale and only after, do we hear the tales. On their way to visit the shrine of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury, a group of nine…show more content…
The general prologue gives us a description of the pilgrims, and in our case, the Pardoner. We learn a lot about him, more specifically about his physical attributes: “This Pardoner had hair as yellow as wax. […] By small ounces hung his lockes that he had (675/677)”. As audience, we are able to visualise him and make our own opinion of him. However, the media do not always show the best part of a person. There are always critics and other people who would bring forward the negative sides of a person. As we see in the description of the pardoner, although his hair seemed beautiful, it was not exactly what it looked like: “But smooth it hung, as doth a strike of flax. […] Full thin it lay, by culpons one and one (676/679)”. Thus, we see that the general prologue gives us a clear overview of the pilgrims with the positive and at the same time the negative aspects of them. Moreover, we always hear that we should not always believe what the media shows us, for it tricks us into believing what is not necessarily accurate. Following the Pardoner’s description in the general prologue, we see the prologue to his actual tale. Here, the floor is all his, whereby he gets to justify himself. Almost as if he is presenting us with an interview, he gives us a clear picture of who he actually is and us, as audience ae allowed to be the judge of whether he is worthy enough to be a…show more content…
He is either a castrated horse or a female horse: “I trow he were a gelding or a mare (691)”. The narrator suggests his sexuality, but never confirms it. The pardoner was also quite boyish in appearance, whereby: “A voice he had as small as hath a goat. No beard had he, nor ever one should have (689/690)”. The pardoner is a man indeed, but here the narrator is suggesting that he is not necessarily the orthodox version of a man. Hence, we ask ourselves, what really differentiates a man from a woman? By the end of the tale, we witness an eroticized violence, whereby the host threatens of holding the pardoner’s testicles and have them cut off. Here, having one’s testicles cut off would make him less of a man. Chaucer’s description of the pardoner brings to mind the question of gender. What does it mean to be more masculine or more feminine? Keeping in mind that they were pilgrims, abiding to what their religion preaches, Chaucer wants us to think about the significance of being a man or a woman in society and to what extent masculinity and femininity is subjective. We wonder whether the question of masculinity and femininity stops only at the physical aspects, more precisely, sex or whether during Chaucer’s time, one’s behaviour and courage or strength gives a clear portrayal of their gender. By representing the pardoner as an ambiguous person, Chaucer wisely decides to play with the audience. He does not really care, and neither
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