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Engl309 Authentic Assessment


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Engl309 Authentic Assessment

  1. 1. + Chaucer; the Romantic On Chaucer as a Romantic Writer, A Presentation by Timothy Kimball
  2. 2. + Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343- 25 October, 1400) is one of the most prominent English authors and is considered the “Father of English Literature.” Born into the middle-class, he rose to nobility after working as a nobleman‟s page, then as a courtier, diplomat, and civil servant, eventually working for the King himself (Greenblatt, 239-40). Historical records lack sufficient data to pinpoint exactly when Chaucer began his writing career, but it is certain that it was penned during the now infamous One Hundred Years War and following the style of The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio.
  3. 3. The Canterbury Tales + Presented by Chaucer (both as a the author and the narrator), The Canterbury Tales follows a group of pilgrims as they prepare to go to Canterbury, but the story is more focused on the stories each of the pilgrims present to pass the time rather than the pilgrimage itself. This work has been hailed by many to be Chaucer‟s most significant work and contribution to the written English language. Within this work then, his “magnum opus,” there is adequate evidence to support the claim that Chaucer was indeed a “Romantic Writer.”
  4. 4. + But wait… What qualifies as „Romantic?‟  To be sure, the popular notions of romance are as far-reaching as people‟s tastes, so there must be some criteria that are to be met before a work or author can be considered „romantic.‟ These qualities can be summarized thusly: -It is a genre of narrative, -”Its fundamental characteristic… is structural, not stylistic” (Greenblatt, 141), -It can be broken down into three main stages of plot structure, a moment of great change that sends the protagonist away from his home, a quest to discover their true meaning and disposition, and finally a test which serves to demonstrate their either passing or failure to become uphold their own values and objectives, ending in their homecoming or reunion. -*It is also worth noting that the Romantic tradition once set the tale in one of three setting locations: ancient Greece, France with Charlemagne, or in England with King Arthur.
  5. 5. + “The Knight‟s Tale”  The first story to be told following the “General Prologue” is “The Knight‟s Tale,” a story that meets the romantic criteria, albeit without the far-flung ideas of adventure that had come to be seen as “mandatory.”  In the tale (which the author of this presentation presumably assumes needs no synopsis) the setting is placed in the antiquated Greek city of Athens, Palamon falls in love with Emily (the moment he is set on a quest), he is to battle his cousin Arcite (who also loves Emily) for her hand, and prays to Venus to be wed to Emily (his test), before eventually (after a surprising series of eventful happenstances) marrying her (his homecoming and conclusion to his original objective).  This tale, which fails to satisfy the more bland and expected events, is notable however in that “that Chaucer subverts romance adventure as it is conventionally understood not because adventure is too “masculine” but because it names for him what is predictable and debased about the mass of English Romances” (Wadiak, 164).
  6. 6. + “The Miller‟s Tale”  In continuing his “subversion of romance,” Chaucer immediately follows “The Knight‟s Tale” with the overtly sexual and crude “Miler‟s Tale,” a story about a carpenter and his wife who is fantasized about by two clerks, one of which lives with them in their spare room and succeeds in sleeping with her while the other clerk does not, but does catch them in the act and burns the successful suitor.  While the Miller originally states that he is drunk and cannot be held for what he says, Chaucer still uses this obscene tale to portray romanticism, although it is considerably less noble in nature than expected. It can be argued that Chaucer created another subverted romance through this tale by including less-than-savory characters (both the Miller and the characters in his story) and this can be supported through the “ambivalence (of) Chaucer‟s fabliau” which “resembles a number of fairy tales” (read romantic tales), (Jordan, 87). The clerk who sleeps with his desired object (the carpenter‟s wife) still was faced with a challenge, went on a quest to obtain it, and succeeded even though he failed the ultimate test when he was caught and burned.
  7. 7. + “The Squire‟s Tale”  If the desire to evidence Chaucer as a romance writer were to be even one more step removed from the narrator to the actual author, the (laughably romantic) “Squire‟s Tale” shows just one more degree of just how romantic Chaucer actually was in his writing. His aspirations for the romantic tale are so bold and envisioned that he cannot even complete the tale within the parameters of the larger work. The story digresses several times into the finer details, includes sub-plots among a multitude of characters, and is so entombed with the many variations of the romantic tale that the plot is seemingly unintelligible.  As well known Chaucer critic M. C. Seymour writes, “the satiric markers set unambiguously in the tale show it to be a parody of a courtly romance, written specifically and dramatically for the Squire, not yet grown to his knightly maturity” (312)
  8. 8. + Connecting the Dots  So if Chaucer were really the romantic writer as claimed, then why did he bother with so many subversions, variations, complications, and poetic interpretations?  One critic rightfully claims that “far from creating an English verse-form in a vacuum, Chaucer took many elements of the English verse popular in his day and refined it to an instrument suitable to his artistic abilities” (Haymes, 42).  It may also be noteworthy that Chaucer could have been so in awe of and inspired by the romance tradition that he felt he must pay homage to it with his first tale, add (if he could) to its remarkable tradition, and then alter it to be distinctly his own.
  9. 9. + Conclusion  While easily regarded as a foremost author of the English language, the subtleties and varied nuances of Chaucer‟s work continue to provide considerable amount of academic speculation and inspection.  After considering the many references to and repeated motifs of romantic literature, it is evident that Chaucer was at the very least highly influenced by romantic literature, the very greatest an admirer and hopeful romantic writer himself.
  10. 10. + Works Cited  Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams. "Geoffrey Chaucer." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. A. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 238-243. Print.  Haymes, Edward R. "Chaucer and the English Romance Tradition." South Atlantic Bulletin 4 (1972): 35. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.  Jordan, Tracey. "Fairy Tale and Fabliau: Chaucer's the Miller's Tale." Studies In Short Fiction 21.2 (1984): 87. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.  Seymour, M.C. "Some Satiric Pointers in the Squire's Tale." English Studies 70.4 (1989): 311. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.  Wadiak, Walter. "Chaucer's Knight's Tale and the Politics of Distinction." Philological Quarterly 89.2/3 (2010): 159-184. Academic Search Complete. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.