Journal Entry: Analyze Chaucer’s purpose in writing the Canterbury Tales

Purpose: Analyze and articulate your understanding of Chaucer’s purpose in focusing his reader/listener’s attention on the whole of late fourteenth-century society, including the middle and lower class folk who were rarely represented in literary texts. Pay particular attention to the ways Chaucer criticizes the flaws in most of the pilgrims by satirically heaping false praise on the worst of them. He wrote in Middle English, the language of the people, rather than following the lead of his contemporary authors who wrote in Latin and focused their literature on the upper classes of the nobility and the church, featuring sermons and romances that were popular during his time.
Assignment: Based on your reading of the assigned selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales–The General Prologue, The Miller’s Prologue and Tale, The Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale, and Chaucer’s Retraction–write a 400-word essay in APA format in which you discuss the one or two specific ways in which Chaucer uses irony, satire, and different genres to provide a somewhat archetypal and perhaps exaggerated literary portrait of late fourteenth-century society. Pay particular attention to his ostensibly veiled critique of powerful church figures, a critique which may have led to his disappearance and possible execution in 1400.

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