How is the rise of the Middle Class depicted in Canterbury Tales?
When Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales the age of chivalry was disappearing and the common man was rising in power and influence. How was the rise of middle class depicted in the tales?
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We get a glimpse of the rising middle class from their brief description in The Prologue. Just the fact that these "working class" people have the money and can afford the time away from their work to go on a religious pilgrimage shows the change in their status and financial stabilty. On this trip we learn that a haberdasher, a dyer, a carpenter, a weaver, and a carpet-maker, along with their wives are on the trip. As we get a collective description of the group we learn that they are all wearing new clothes and their knives are made of fine silver, not lowly brass. They are wealthy enough to bring their own cook. They carry themselves in a manner that made them seem worthy of being town leaders -- they have the "capital and revenue" to even be made aldermen. The women in particular seem to be fond of their new status. The narrator says, "Besides their wives declared it was their due, And if they did not think so, then they ought; to be called madam is a glorious thought." The people of this class are gaining status that previous generations would have been reserved for at least the landed gentry or lesser nobles.
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