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Saturday, 27 August 2016

The age of chaucer historical background : social | economic | religious state

Chaucer belonged to the middle of the fourteenth century . And that was the latter past of the middle Ages . The designation of the dark ages for the period was then on the wane . Of course, Calamities and upheavals were not all over . Periodic famines , after the Great famine and the dreadful Black Death , definitely affected much the quietude of the age . A good many people , particularly of the crowded towns , were killed by that deadliest epidemic black plague . As a result , he social state of the time was not all satisfactory . The curse of the fatal epidemic haunted all , rich and poor,and made life insecure everywhere . The political condition of the period was not all sound , too ,at that time . The hundred years 'war , fought between England and France , still continued . That war , constituted of a series of conflicts , had two specific phases at this age . The Edwardian War (1337-1360) and the Caroline War (1369-1389).Of course , the English hold in France was in decline only to be completely washed away some years after by the emergence of Joan of arc.
historical background of the age of chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer 

Moreover,after the glorious conquest of Edward,there came the troublesome reign of Richard II , which was an unfortunate time for the English nation . In the religious matters , the age had the bitter taste of some unfortunate controversy within the Church . The mighty authority of the Catholic Church had dissension within and resulted in the rise of Protestantism in the earliest form , that was a prelude to the separation between Catholicism and Lutheranism and a definitive end to the unified Church of the Middle Ages . But the happy indication was there that despotism and corruption of the Catholic Church would not continue much longer .
Nevertheless,all was not wrong in England . The social condition of England in particular immensely changed from what it had been during the couple of centuries after the Conquest . The arrogant victorious Normans did no more consider themselves foreigners . They were merged,under the stress of changing political situations,with the English nation . There was a strong awakening of national pride and confidence in the formation of one nation by the Normans and the English . Moreover , the economic condition , particularly of the peasantry definitely improved . with better production and higher prices , a healthier living could be possible for the much subdued and oppressed peasant class before the peasants'Revolt.

Moreover , there was the rise of the strong , royalty-based nation-state-the Kingdom of England.The King began to be more assertive , free from the undue intervention of the haughty peers.Of course , the royal oppression remained , but much more confined . indiscriminate tyranny by the greedy lords and their followers were curbed to a great ectent . The right of the commons began to push itself forward. Their power came to be counted . But,what was of greater interest was the flourish of literature in England,so much needed for the emergence of the Renaissance,soon to follow . The great awakening of English literature in the second half of the fourteenth century , was particularly due to a great master . He multiplicity of occupations endowed him with wide experiences . His great literature was the direct result of his unique and varied experiences of life as a page , esquire , diplomat , soldier , official and courtier and of his wide acquaintances with great foreign literary masters of France and Italy.

Indeed , in the developed of English literature, Chaucer is a great name . The gradual advancement of English literature , from the Old English period to the Middle English , reached the height of excellence, in the age of Chaucer by his literary magnificence . Chaucer's uniqueness and significance in English literature are particularly borne out in the very designation given to his age as the age of Chaucer. There was definitely an advancement of the English literary world.  From medieval allegories and romances there was a transition to the social comedy and the study of men in society by Chaucer. Moreover, there was a new emphasis on the individual man,  quiet apart from the man , existing merely as a specific type.  Literature received a strong sense of subjectivity going close with the objective presentation of the human world and the situation around.

Indeed, Chaucer is found to have remained the link between the medieval literary world and the modern . He , as a literary head , stands at the crossroad of medievalism and modernism and represents what is perfect in the former and indicates what is prospective in the latter.  In him is found the just forerunner of the Renaissance.

With Chaucer (1340-1400) , the father of English Poetry,  begins an era- a new epoch - in the history of English literature.  he is . indeed , the most formidable literary figure before the Renaissance and the greatest name among the English men of letters before Spenser and Shakespeare.  But what is more,  the credit of usharing  modern English literature goes him.  In various ways , Chaucer  gave a new impulse and vitality to English literature , and raised an edifice of all gold over the rough stone of anglo-Saxon literature and the barren field of Anglo-Norman. During the second half of the fourteenth century when Chaucer had been writing , some significant historical events took place and they shaped his creative imagination . The literary tradition of the Middle Ages was then on the wane through the effects of the Great famine and the dreadful Black Death were visible . The political  condition of the period was not all sound,  too. The hundred years 'war, fought between England and France,  still continued.  Then came the troublesome reign of Richard II, which was an unfortunate time for the English nation. In the religious matters , the age had the bitter taste of some unfortunate controversy within the Church . It resulted in the rise of Protestantism.  There came a hope that despotism and corruption of the Catholic Church would not continue much longer.

Nevertheless,  all was not wrong in England.  The economic condition,  particularly of the peasantry definitely improved.  With better production and higher prices, a healthier living could be possible for the much subdued and oppressed peasant class before the Peasants 'Revolt. There was a strong awakening of national pride and confidence in the formation of onr nation by the Normans and the English.

But a great literature flourished in England,  so much needed for the emergence of the Renaissance , soon to follow.  The great awakening of Ebglish literature in the second half og the Fourteenth century was particularly due to a great master, Geography Chaucer. The crowning piece of Chaucer's literary genius is certainly The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.  He began that ambitious literary project about 1387. He continued to work on it till his own death,  thirteen years later, but left it unfinished . The Canterbury Tales is an unforgettable creation in English literature . In its plan,  conception , execution and matter of wit and humour , The Canterbury Tales remains an unassailable literary work. Chaucer demonstrated here amply his power to reflect life in its variety,  illuminate what is basically humdrum and probe deep into the motives and actions of different men and women , engaged in diverse professions.

Chaucer's greatness is, perhaps,  most significantly manifested in his art of characterisation.  His art of characterisation . His works present not merely a band of mab and women,  but some individuals with certain special characteristics, moods and tendencies . The Prologue is full of 'God's plenty '. His characters well represent the then English society.   The dignified feudal lords,  the corrupted churchmen, the dishonest business class, the rising guildsmen , the peasant class , the professionals like the doctor and the lawyer , are all present in it.  In The Nun's Priest's Tale the dilapidated house of the widow and her concern at the fox's attact on her cock presents Chaucer's concept of the rural poor people.

Again,  Chaucer stands triumphantly in his power of story -telling.  His descriptive and narrative gifts truly possess rare qualities.  He, in fact, remains the first great English story -teller in verse. The modern age of English literature in greatly indebted tobhim in this respect . His description of the pilgrims in The Prologue or his narrative about the cock and hen in The Nun:s Priest's Tale exemplify adequately his skills in telling a story. What is more remarkable and original in Chaucer is his perception of the fun of life and his wonderful sense of humour. Humour with him is always invigorating and delightful . Chaucer is found to have moved here much more forward than his age and his predecessors.  In The Canterbury Tales, humour is present as an indispensable and diverting element.Humour in it is chiefly in the shape of irony and satire, through we do have some examples of pure provoking laughter.

As a poet, his eminence depends much upon his technical command over versification.  His mastery is manifested in the striking originally , innovated by him in versification.  The use of the line of five stresses,  called the pentameter,  was possibly first introduced by him. The intricate structure of French balled forms is found cut down and simplified by him to produced a seven -line stanza,  called rhyme- royal . That proves to be successful medium in such long narrative poems . as Troilus and Criseyde. Finally the rhyming pentameter or heroic verse, which is the metre of the greatest English poetry of all tines, owes its origin in England to Chaucer's use of decasyllables . Indeed, Chaucer's metrical innovations alone are enough to earn him the title of 'father of English poetry'. bestowed on him by Dryden.

The Chaucerian literary world is not antique , but modern . This has an absolutely modern environment in an old setting.  His genius has put fresh and formative spirits into old things and turned gross into gold. Albert is quite right in his observation,

"Chaucer's is, indeed, a genius,  he stands alone,  and for nearly two hundred years none have claim equality with him.''
In the language of David Daiches, with Chaucer, the English language and English literature grew at a bound to full maturity . 

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