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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Chaucer as the chronicler of the society of his time:prologue to the canterbury tales as a social document

As a story- teller in verse , Chaucer , no doubt a unique master of narration is found to be grand observer of life and society around him . As he narrates his tale , in simple and melodious verses , and creates engaging charcters , he presents , too , the life of his time scrutinises its specific traits , with lively and realistic touches .

In The Canterbury Tales , which is the crowing glory of Chaucer's literary achievements , is found fully exhibited his power to represent the fourteenth century English society in its different aspects , ecclesiastical as well as secular , with a rare artistry . The Prologue to The Canterbury  Tales is found to testify to his close association with the English life of his time . Truly speaking , it remains a great social documents of fourteenth  century English life in verse.

Indeed , in the prologue , Chaucer represented adequately different strata of the English conmunity under the feudal hierarchy . He presents here different character to represent different classes of medieval English society . His triumph lies in his power of observation and analysis that makes his characters typical of the age or society they represent , Here Chaucer stands without any parallel among his predecessors and contemporaries . 

The very conception , on which The Canterbury Tales is based , has a social background . Chaucer is found to exploit here the medieval religious practice to visit the tomb of Thomas Becket at Canterbury . That was a custom in which all the sections of the British people were participants . The pilgrimage to Canterbury is the occasion of Chaucer's Prologue in which he introduces different pilgrims , belonging to different professions , occupations , or functions , both secular and ecclesiastical .

Indeed , the Prologue alone bears out Chaucer's power to observe and examine , in a vivid and lovely manner , the fourteenth century . Except the highest ranks of the feudal order , the varons and the bishops , and the lowest , the serfs , all other sections are possibly represented through different characters , making pilgrimage to Canterbury .

In fact , Chaucer is found to present the then English society through different portraits introduced by him as the pilgrims to but they mainly focus the social types which are represented  in the work . Above all , colour , variety , interest and charm which Chaucer  had represented through  his portraits of pilgrims  make the whole social picture precise , clear , engaging and emphatic .

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