Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales Throughout history all different parts of the world have been devastated by natural disasters. Whenever something created by nature destroys a certain area of the world, people tend to group together and overcome such a tragedy. Our tale will begin in one of the busiest and diverse places in the world, New York City. The month was September and the day started off a bit chilly for an early fall day and the wind was blowing hard. Warnings had been posted for possible hurricane conditions, and the city had become a frenzy of activity. Some were busy preparing for a possible devastating hurricane and gathering supplies while others were going about their daily routine unaffected by the chaos surrounding them.

As they day progressed the sky became darker and the wind picked up strength. The possibility of a storm occurring increased by the minutes and soon became a citywide warning. By this time most people were able to understand that a violent and unpredictable storm was about to overtake the city, but there were still some who didnt believe the reports from the weather channel. Soon the rain started coming down in sheets and the wind increased to hurricane style conditions topping over 100 mph. Power was lost quickly and buildings and homes were being ripped apart from the wind and debris flying about.

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Parts of the city were damaged severely from the beginning effects of the hurricane and there were people in need of help. The city officials prepared ahead of time and set up shelters for those who needed protection and assistance. I for one decided to take the opportunity and reside in a shelter for the vast majority of the passing storm. As the storm progressed outside, the shelters quickly filled up with terrified city-dwellers unable to predict what was occurring outside of shelter walls. Natural disasters can bring about a caring and sensitive side in people, and those seeking comfort and relieve are able to turn to those around them to receive this ease. The shelter I was residing in happened to gather an interesting and diverse group of people. Myself and 24 others turned to relied on each other and gathered together in a cluster and began to converse.

Maybe they just wanted take their minds off of the hurricane outside, or maybe they were just bored out of their minds, but whatever our reasons may have been does not matter. Because this gathering occurred allows me to tell you this tale It was hard to make small talk among such a large group so I came up with a different idea. I remember reading a book back when I was in high school where a group of people told stories to pass their time on a long journey they were all taking together. I figured that since none of us were going to be leaving anytime soon that we might give it a try. I suggested it to everyone and surprisingly they all agreed.

I explained to them the basic storyline of the book that I was mimicking and they all felt that it would be interesting to see who could come up with the most interesting and realistic story that provided all the basics of humor and romance rolled into one. It was decided that after everyone completed his or her tale that we would take a vote to see which tale the majority enjoyed most. The winner would then receive a prize that would be determined later. Before I begin the stories, let me give you an introduction to each one of the people that I was gathered with. I will present you with each character in the order that they introduced themselves. Ill begin with the low-budget porn star.

He is an out of work actor who had to turn to making cheesy porn flicks so he could survive and pay his bills. He was just waiting for his big break to come along so he could make it into real show business and become more well known outside of his typical porn circle. He was born and raised as a New Yorker and he has the New York accent to go with it. You can sense his intelligence from his choice of vocabulary and The Prostitute came next. Now I dont mean to stereotype her at all, because she seems like a very nice girl.

Her childhood was a rough one, starting from when she was just a little girl. She grew up taking care of herself since her mother and father decided that their social life came before her well being. Not only did her parents neglect her, her father also abused her. Unable to deal with living through all the pain that was being inflicted on her, she decided to leave. She was a runaway at the age of 13 and escaped to the streets of New York City to try and make a living.

Even though she had to learn to be an adult on her own at such a young age, she was still unable to make it successfully in the city. Her need for money and lack of skills left very few options for her to pursue. While trying to figure out what to do she met up with an older girl of 18 who had been through the same ordeals and was willing to take her under her wing. This girl happened to have succumbed to a life of prostitution, so this seemed to be the best option she had that would provide her with money. The Hillbilly was next to introduce himself.

He was raised on a small farm in Nebraska with his parents, six brothers, three sisters along with four grandparents, two aunts and two uncles and seven cousins. Being that he lived with such an extended family, he was never able to receive much privacy and we will just say that his family was very close and tight-knit. When he reached the ripe old age of 15, he like many of his friends turned to their cousins to marry and start a family. He wed his neighborhood sweetheart, Betty-Sue and the two settled down into her familys attic. After failing at his life-long dream of being a NASCAR pit crew worker after a freak accident involving a tractor trailer where he severely mangled his hand, he has succumb to a life of farming and raising 8 children.

The hacker came next. By day he is a hard working bank teller, but by night he hacks into the worlds most prestigious computer programs. Along with hacking he has a side hobby of creating and designing deadly computer viruses in hopes to one day ruin the entire world computer system. He is a very secretive and anti-social type of man. He has never had real friends, just random acquaintances from work or school.

His type of work requires total secrecy so he does not get caught therefore he trusts no one. The Millionaire was a unique individual, and spoke next. He had the privilege of being born into money and he carried on the tradition and took over daddys corporate office and continued to make his own millions. At home in one of his several mansions he has a wife and two children whom he hardly knows. Because of his lack of contribution towards his family life his children dont know him and he and his wife have a non-existent marriage.

The Welfare Queen was next to speak. Her family consists of 6 children (all have different fathers) with one on the way. She was never taught how to take care of herself and is unable to understand the concept of hard work. The only way she knows how to survive is by constantly bearing children so she can receive a larger welfare check each month. Currently she rents a 2-bedroom shack and shares it with her out-of-work boyfriend. She currently has 11 children and just keeps popping them out in order to get her check every month.

Next is the Conceited Athletic Hero. Hes the type of guy who is too good to sign autographs for small children who marvel at him and would rather pretend that they didnt exist. His father instilled in him that sports and winning were everything and that if you didnt bring him a trophy you would be ostracized from the family. He doesnt love or even enjoy the sport he is playing; rather he just does it to get the paycheck each week. He has the garage full of expensive cars, the beautiful wife (whom he cheats on) and a plethora of gorgeous houses.

Since his life was empty and he had very little to life for, he chose to turn to drugs and alcohol to drain his sorrows. The Beauty Queen came next. She was like many other self-centered beauty queens, whose life consisted of being obsessed with winning beauty contests. The first contest she entered when she was two was the Beautiful Baby Contest, and she won. From then on her stage-mother continued training her since a baby.

She instilled upon her the values and standards that winning is everything and that losing was just not acceptable. She has never been able to stand up to her mom and always dreamt of the day when she can escape from her grasps. Her dream was to run away to Hollywood and become a famous actress and marry an actor. The day finally came but instead of going out to Hollywood she came to New York City. She defiantly did not give off the impression of being intelligent, more the dumb blonde type. Today was her first day in New York and her she was in a shelter. The Hard-Working Father seemed like a very sweet guy.

He has a wife and three children whom he loves unconditional and will do anything for. He enjoys his job as a high school principal and makes a substantial living. And no average American family complete without the family dog, Rocky. The Over-Driven Career Woman came next. She has scrambled to the top in the era where Title IX was just becoming popular, and has now made herself one of the corporate presidents at a prestigious law firm.

She has never been married nor has any real friends and hasnt been on a vacation in 13 years. Instead she fills her life with work and more work, never stopping to enjoy life. The Drug Dealer was the next to speak. He was born and raised on the streets, never knowing whom his real father was. His mother abandoned him when he was 5, and after living with foster families till the age of 15, he decided to go off on his own.

Unable to make a real living he turned to drugs. Eventually he was able to gather enough money to rent a rat-infested apartment in a ghetto neighborhood. His popularity was known around town as the man who could get anything. This guy wasnt a good Sumerian and was always having run-ins with the police. Not only did he receive his earnings from dealing drugs he also was a thief and frequently robbed apartment buildings and small stores.

He seemed to be the type to enjoy his life of crime, saying that it brought him excitement. The Politician came next. He is the sleaziest of them all, getting everything he needs by cheating, stealing and lying. Never in his life has he done something the honest way. On the outside he looks like an honest hardworking man who is willing to devote his life to politics, but inside he is cold-hearted just waiting for his chance to take over and destroy the world. The College Student was a very cocky girl.

She feels that she knows everything in the world and is superior to everyone around her. Her life consists of studying, partying, and drinking and not much else. While her studies are important she would rather experience the other side of school first, being that she already knows everything there is to know. She looks down upon people in general and takes every chance she gets to put people down. The Hard Working Mother is next. She is very strong and extremely determined to make something of her life.

Her life had been hard from the beginning but she just takes things as they come. She married young, had two children and then quickly got divorced. He ex-husband was a deadbeat and was unwilling to pay child support or alimony payments. All she got out of the divorce was the house, but she had no skills and no education to help her secure a job. She is stuck working two dead-end jobs to trying to keep up with her mortgage payments while putting food on the table and clothes on her kids backs. The Feminist was next.

She spends her life fighting for all womens rights issues and equal opportunity, on top of which she is also a man hater. Sh …

Canterbury Tales

.. ee, nor of his wif.” (55-56) and the miller pays heed to this warning, suppressing curiosity of “Goddes privetee” as regards the flood and trusting his wife so much as to leave her alone and independent while he travels on his business. This blind acceptance of ‘Goddes’ mysteries and his wife’s deceit leads to his metaphoric and literal downfall when the tale comes to it’s climax, as the miller falls from the roof, and again, literally and metaphorically waking up to find his wife having had sex with another man. The miller’s wife Alison is another character that is represented using this same process of creating a stereotypical figure and then adding flaws and perversions. Alison is presented as a pure, innocent, virginal youth in the tale, “Fair was this yonge wif and therwithal As any wesele hir body gent and smal… Ful smale ypulled were hir browes two,…

Hir mouth was sweete as bragot or the meeth,” (115-52) Other youthful descriptions are given of Alison in the passage that runs from line 115 to 162. This description seems like the stereotypical virginal newly-wed until the plot thickens and Alison becomes less and less innocent. One instance when Alison’s loyalty and morality are tested is when Nicholas accosts her, grabbing her “by the queinte”(168). Alison’s initial reaction is that of any loving wife, to protest and try and escape, but she does not take much persuading to go to bed with the clerk. Chaucer explains this by saying that he made such vigorous advances that she could not resist, but this scene seems more like rape than a lover wooing his true love. Alison is instantly exposed to have the same base and uncurbed desires as Nicholas, parodying the facade of the virginal young bride.

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One character who openly reveals the facade which he hides behind is the pardoner. His description in the general prologue tells of his trickery in using false relics and his use of his position as absolver to make money. The pardoner himself, also openly admits his hypocritical practices to the other pilgrims. He tells them that he is only concerned with money, and reveals the falsehood of his relics (and even after this tries to trick them into giving him money for absolution). The pardoner is not represented as a pious, humble and holy man as you would expect of a pardoner, but as a conniving, money-grabbing hypocrite.

This character itself is almost a stereotype, though Chaucer’s description of the pardoner holds many quirky traits that take the pardoner from being a stereotype to being a believable individual. The pardoner’s sexuality is a complex issue that has had critics such as Donald Howard, G. L. Kiterridge and Paul Ruggiers debating. The pardoner is clearly not an open and shut stereotype.

What is unique about the pardoner is that he recognises his own hypocrisy. He admits that he is guilty of the “avarice” that he preaches against but separates himself from those who he condemns, “Thus can I preche that same vice Which that I use, and that is avarice. But though myself be gilty in that sine, Yit can I make other folk to twinne”(139-142) This recognition of his own hypocrisy takes the pardoner one stage further than a purely hypocritical clergyman and makes his character more complex and interesting. The pardoner recognises his own sins and fails to see this as a problem, creating a psychological profile that is much too intricate to be brushed aside as a stereotype. This use of the typical’types’ of people encountered in Chaucer’s era helps to give a vividness that the reader can relate to and, quoting a stereotype initially (and then subsequently deconstructing it) as he does with a number of the pilgrims such as Alison and the Knight, allows a lot of information to be passed from the author to the reader with minimum communication.

Quoting a stereotype saves Chaucer having to explain what the character is like. Chaucer takes advantage of this fact, but does not allow this to confine the scope his work has for realism. His genius in describing the pilgrims is that he will use a stereotype and then add individual features (that more often than not contradict the initial image), making the characters more intricate and interesting and above all ,more believable. The eye for detail that Chaucer obviously possesses is put to good use here, these characters are not broad, generalising stereotypes, rather he gives a detailed insight into the psyche of the pilgrims we encounter. I believe that the pilgrims are believable and fully developed characters, that Chaucer has created using typical stereotypes from the time and the people he saw around himself. He has combined this with individual quirks and details that give further insight into the characters.

Chaucer has not created stereotypes, but has used stereotypes (and manipulated them) in order to create intricate and realistic characters. This twinning of the typical and the atypical gives The Canterbury Tales a definite sense of realism that reaches far beyond stereotypes. Bibliography 1. J.R. Hulbert, Chaucer’s Pilgrims p23 (from Essays in Modern Criticism-see bibliography) 2.

The Black book of Carmarthen (c. latter 14th century, author unknown) Preidaeu Annun from The Book of Taliesin, poem 30 (c. 14th century author unknown) 3. C. D. Benson, “Chaucer’s Pardoner: His sexuality and modern critics” (from Luminarium medieval literature website at Bibliography Chaucer (modern essays in criticism), edited by E.

Wagenknecht, OUP 1974 The Canterbury Tales, D. Pearsall, Unwin Critical Library 1985 Who’s Who in Chaucer, A.F. Scott, Elm Tree1974 The Canterbury Tales (casebook series), edited by J.J. Anderson, Anchor Press 1974 Chaucer’s Women, P. Martin, Macmillan 1990 Chaucer, a critical appreciation, P.F. Baum, Duke University Press 1958 Chaucer Langland and the Creative Imagination, D. Aers Critical Essays on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, edited by M.

Andrew Open University Press 1991 Chaucer, D. Aers, Harvester 1986 Geoffrey Chaucer, edited by J.A. Burrow, Penguin 1969 Editions of Canterbury Tales used: Penguin Classics 1960 edition Excerpts contained in Norton Anthology of English Literature, Sixth edition, Volume 1 Norton 1993.


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