Martin CJ Mongiello
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
World Literature ENG250
April 15, 2010
Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
When the intelligence of a gifted and well-educated author is displayed on paper for all of
the centuries to read - you have a great written work. When he who is intelligent is a
noble taking up the plight of the common person speaking out about the church and
government – you have a hero. Such as the legacy of Geoffrey Chaucer and his
Canterbury Tales. For he could have been content with his gold and mighty place in
government. He could have allowed his servants to bathe and wash him as well as fit on
his shoes in the morning so he would not need to bend down while taking a nap daily and
ordering around his many employees. Why lift a finger for the filthy peasants, the
commoners, the many slew
…but he did lift a finger, at least two…and he held his pen steady and strong.
The Canterbury tales is an exhibit of a well-traveled man who also had been in the
military with the English in France and was actually captured in ransomed one time. He
had a great wealth of international experience as well as HY position in the English
government. At times, he had been the comptroller of customs in the port of London,
Knight of the Shire and deputy forester of the royal forest of North Petherton in
His vast experience and society from the military man all the way up to high office gave
him a bird’s eye view of each position in the cast system. His Canterbury Tales (he wrote
and published many other books as well) is a collection of stories written in Middle
English where he gets to take on the role of numerous people in society (from low to
high) and have them speak aloud.
Who else could actually have performed this feat during this time in the world? Who else
could speak on behalf of the average pilgrim yet know how a Knight felt?
Chaucer also uses his technical skills in not writing a story, but instead performing inside
of his own poem (similar to a Decameron). At the end of the fourteenth century, he
speaks on behalf of the common person (and woman!) about English society and
especially the church.
Listen to the truth of how common folks feel.
Listen to them complain, or, listen to them make fun of things they do not like! Listen to
the Miller’s tale where Nicholas plans to make love with the Miller’s wife – an often
repeated story throughout history and very natural for all people to understand. Consider
Tiger Woods and his entire situation – the stories that were interesting to read then are
still occurring now! The Miller’s tale, like all of the other poems, is relevant and fresh.
In summation, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales uses the strength and power of an
educated man to tell the story of the common person. It is a heroic, highly awarded work
that is both giving and loving - in that a common person could not have written such a
great work. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales has therefore allowed millions of
people to experience and know how regular folk felt and talked in the middle ages. It is
skillfully written and heralded as a masterpiece!
Thank you Geoffrey. Thank you, sir.
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