How does Chaucer Blend Satire With Humour in the General Prologue To The Canterbury Tales?

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The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Poem is a notable literary work by . A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Poem.


How does Chaucer blend satire with humour in the general prologue To The Canterbury Tales?

Chaucer’s (1340-1400) “The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales’ is a masterpiece of English literature. It is a masterful example of how satire and humour can be combined to create a powerful and effective social commentary. Through his depiction of the various pilgrims, Chaucer uses satire to expose the hypocrisy, greed, and other flaws of medieval society. His use of humour helps to make the satire more edible and entertaining.

Hyperbolic Representation of Characters: Chaucer often uses exaggeration or hyperbole to create humour. Through hyperbole, he exposes the absurdity of certain characters. For example, the Friar is a clergy class, but he knows every single bar in the town. Chaucer quotes about him,

“knew the taverns well in every town”

This description is clearly exaggerated and humorous, but it also reveals the Friar’s immodest behaviour.

Irony: Chaucer also uses irony to a great extent in the “General Prologue”. For example, he describes the Pardoner as having.

“hair as yellow as wax,
Hanging down smoothly like a hank of flax”.

This description is ironic because it contrasts with the Pardoner’s morally corrupt behaviour.

Parody: Chaucer also uses parody to create humour and to satirize certain literary conventions. For example, he parodies the romantic conventions of courtly love in his description of the Knight. He is portrayed as a noble and chivalrous figure. Again, he is also comical in his outdated and idealistic view of love.

Satirical commentary: Chaucer uses his descriptions of the various pilgrims to offer satirical commentary on medieval society. For example, he describes the Prioress as being more concerned with her appearance. She is more concerned with her dogs than with her religious duties. Again, the Summoner is corrupted and dishonest, but he has a close relationship with the Church. These descriptions are satirical, but they are also humorous and entertaining.

The Juxtaposition of Different Characters: Another technique that Chaucer uses to blend satire with humour is by juxtaposing different characters and their values. For example, the contrast between the dignified and virtuous Wife of Bath and the corrupt and hypocritical Pardoner emphasizes the contradictions and tensions in medieval society. The contrast between the idealistic Clerk and the worldly Merchant also exposes the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the merchant class.

Chaucer’s “General Prologue” is a masterful blend of satire and humour that exposes the foibles and follies of medieval society. The result of blending satire with humour is both funny and thought-provoking, and that still resonates with readers today.