Discuss Chaucer as a satirist with refrence to the "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The portraits that Chaucer offers of the various pilgrims reveal his gift as a satirist, as he reveals details that poke gentle fun at the various characters in the group. Perhaps his most obvious method of satire is the way he develops the characters of some of the pilgrims as being hypocrites, or not what they claim to be. For example, note how he introduces the Friar:

In all of the four Orders there was none

So versed in small talk and in flattery:

And many was the marriage in a hurry

He'd had to improvise and even pay for.

He waas a noble pillar of his Order...

There is a clear hypocrisy in the way that the Friar is "a noble pillar of his Order" whilst also a renowned lecherous individual who has had to pay off women he has slept with so they could marry. This example of Chaucer's satire is typical of the way that he pokes fun at the characters he presents, particularly those who pretend to be something they are obviously not. Although this is quite an obvious example, there are other examples such as the Prioress who has her own pet dogs, when church law at the time strictly forbade nuns from having dogs. In his description, Chaucer pokes satirical fun at a number of his characters, and this is something that continues as the tale competition begins.

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