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In the "Canterbury Tales", the characters that comprise the middle class are the Cook, the Shipman, the Physician, and The Wife of Bath. All of these characters are portrayed as competent and knowledgeable. The Cook is a master tradesman who is greatly respected. The Shipman is also respected because of his knowledge of the world. The middle class characters are respected more than the clergy that is along on the pilgrimage. The "immoral lower class" (the Lawyer, the Summoner, the Reeve) are painted as bawdy and selfish. Chaucer sees the rise of the middle class occurring because of their expertise and respect.
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