The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

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How does satire in Chaucer's General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales work within a subtle frame of evaluation of the pilgrims?

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At the time that Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, between 1387 and 1400, there were three "estates," roughly equivalent to social classes, which had been firmly established in England during the Middle Ages.

The First Estate is the clergy and those who assisted the clergy in teaching and religious activities; the Second Estate is the nobility and aristocrats; and the Third Estate is the peasants or commoners. In terms of feudalism, the Second Estate (nobility and aristocrats) were those who lived in the castles and defended the castles, the Third Estate (peasants and commoners) were those who worked for those who lived in the castles, and the First Estate (clergy) were those who taught and religiously ministered to those in the Second and Third Estates.

What is sometimes referred to as the "Fourth Estate" is the more rural, outlying commoners and anyone who didn't fit neatly into any other category. (In modern times, the "fourth estate" is the independent, "free" press and other...

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