General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales Questions and Answers
by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Comment on Chaucer's use of irony in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales?

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In satire, there is the use of irony, humor, and exaggeration to criticize the foibles and vices of people. Chaucer cleverly satirizes many of the pilgrims as he points to their hypocrisy.

In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer creates what is known as estate satire. In Medieval times, an estate was a division of society; there were three estates: the Clergy (those who prayed), the Nobility (those who fought) and the Peasantry (those who labored). The largest target of this satire is the Clergy because it is rife with hypocrisy.

Besides the Pardoner, who has previously been mentioned, the Prioress is another member of the estate of the Clergy whom Chaucer satirizes in his own inimitable way. The Prioress is a nun who ranks just below the abbess, and she serves as an example to the other nuns. However, the Prioress in Chaucer's Tales is anything but an example of humility and poverty. On the contrary, she is ironically affected as sings

...with a fine
intoning through her nose,....
And she spoke...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 858 words.)

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