Chaucer's Retraction In The Canterbury Tales

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Chaucer considers himself a maker. He is not only an author but a poetic creator. He takes authorship of his work. In his “Retraction”, he raises the most controversy regarding the different intents of different authorships. Chaucer suggests that the intent of the author is not valid, but rather up to the moral interpretation of the reader. At the end of his The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer’s “Retraction” is meant to serve as a request for prayer and to emphasize the satirical nature of his work that he is not to blame for. He has nothing to feel guilty about. Chaucer reiterates from the “General Prologue” through to his “Retraction” that his simple purpose is to retell the tales of the pilgrims, thus he is to be excused and not held accountable …show more content…
The tales are not his own and he warns that if he is to offend, to turn the leaf. This is most prevalent in the “Wife of Bath’s Prologue”, where taboo themes of sex and multiple marriages are at large. In the “Wife of Bath’s Prologue”, the Wife of Bath goes directly against the word of Jesus Christ and contradicts the testament to justify her decisions. Quite oppositely, Chaucer “thanken[s] oure Lord Jesu” (Chaucer 287), not to alter interpretation, but rather as a last attempt to not influence societies view on his moral compass. His “Retraction” is a devotion to the Christian church and the values that were strongly upheld during the Middle English Period. He is not sorry for the tales. While he demonstrates asking for forgiveness regarding his techniques of literature, the “Retraction” is rather an apology; he is defending and justifying his works as “Al that is writen is writen for oure doctrine, and that is myne entente” (Chaucer 288). In his last statement of his own works he is not only self-critiquing his corpus, but he is also denying responsibility. It is argued that if Chaucer was really sincerely sorry for his works, he would not simply retract them, but rather destroy them. These “litel treties” (Chaucer 287) that he is retracting, are what his reputation as a maker depends …show more content…
Chaucer is concerned with the interpretation of the Tales for the readers. He turns the attention from the pilgrims and addresses the readers directly. The “Retraction” does not have a metaphysical purpose, but rather is used as a literary technique in an attempt for the publication of the Tales to be recognized as part of the canon of literature. And today, The Canterbury Tales, still widely studied, are a major component of the canon. The purpose of his Tales was to teach and encourage that we may ““studye to the salvacioun of [his] soule, and graunte [him] grace of verray penitence, confessioun and satisfaccioun” (Chaucer 288). Chaucer’s attempted epistemology and influence are a result of his “wordly vanitees” (Chaucer

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