Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales: Who Should Be Listening?

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Who Should Be Listening?
(A discussion of Chaucer’s use of satire to reach his intended audience)

Who is this message really for? There are several people that can read something, but only a select few that will truly understand the meaning and know what the message is conveying. The message being written is important, but so it the intended audience that it is trying to reach. Chaucer was faced with this problem when expressing this thoughts in his work Canterbury Tales. Chaucer had huge problems with majorly radical issues of the day, most of them dealing with the church. He was in iconoclast, that is to say, he attacked and exposed the issues of sacred institutions. He wanted to addresses these issues, but need a way to keep himself
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Chaucer is known as an iconoclast. This means that he attacks and aims to break up sacred institutions, like the church for example. This thoughts and ideas were extremely radical at the time and still even radical less than a decade ago. The main aspects that he aims to expose through his work of The Pardoner’s Prologue, The Pardoner’s Tale, and The Wife of Bath’s Prologue deal with the church and gender wars. One of the prime ways that Chaucer attacks the church is through his portrayal of the character the Pardoner. In the beginning, he speaks of how he is an awful man. He takes money from people who want to be absolved of their sins but instead of doing so the Pardoner simply pockets the money. Chaucer has a huge problem with the hypocrisy to the church. This is shown in The Pardoner’s Tale, “Of every soul, grant pardon and relieve you of sin, for that is best I won’t deceive you,” (lines 341-342). In his prologue, the Pardoner was discussing how he doesn’t feel bad about ripping people off and at the end of his tale he is asking people for their money. This is why Chaucer doesn’t like hypocrites in the church. Although Chaucer has a problem with hypocrites in the church, it doesn’t mean he has a problem with the entire church. This is displayed through his character the Parson. “He really did follow the gospel of Christ. Devout, diligent, and patient… this parson’s parish was spread out far and wide, but he never failed to visit the sick far and near, rich and poor alike,” (MacMillan General Reference, 2014). This man was truly a holy man, he practiced what he preached and was a good example for everyone. Through this character, Chaucer could show that he thought people of faith should be holy and loyal. From the Parson we hear, “For if a priest be foul, on whom we trust, No wonder is a lewd man to ruste.” Chaucer believes religious men should

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