comment on the use of wit, irony and satire in Chaucer's The Prologue.
In the time that Geoffrey Chaucer wrote 'The Prologue,' English society was religious, strict and superstitous about Hell, but it was also bawdy, rude and disrespectful in certain circles. It is worth remembering that the classes didn't often rub shoulders with one another, and that pilgrimages were often one of the few occasions for a good mix up of people. So here we see that, in the rule that everyone contributes a story, there is going to be a reflecting mix of taste and crudity! It was also difficult and dangerous to criticize society and its leaders and churches too much, so rude tales and sleazy jokes were a perfect opportunity to 'cock a snook' at the establishment under the guise of the anecdotes being other people's stories! Satire is often used like this in literature to comment on society's ills and make readers laugh at and then reflect upon their own shortcomings in this regard.