The Canterbury Tales Literary Analysis

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Is it possible to judge an individual without deliberating social background? The answer is no. From the beginning of its existence, the human race relied on society. Society and its culture are at the heart of civilization, encompassing an individual, forcing him or her to conform to its norms. Thus, all figures in literature are bound to reflect traits of their societal environment. The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer is a classical example. Written during the turbulent periods of the 14th century, the tale offers a close insight into the significance of Christianity and feudalism during the Middle Ages. The story involves several unique characters, but in this analysis, I shall focus on the Knight, perhaps an ideal individual …show more content…
From the very first sentence, the narrator gives an incredibly straightforward characterization, saying “A KNIGHT there was, and that a worthy man” (Chaucer 43). What’s more, he gives additional admirations with surprising repetition of the term “worthy” bound up with his martial skill and experience. Chaucer further credits the Knight, this time about his insight and behavior. He says, “And although he was brave, he was prudent, and of his deportment as meek as is a maid” (Chaucer 68-9). The Knight is not a mere ignoble, amoral barbarian but a man of virtue, demonstrating a maiden-like meekness. His self-control is also rather remarkable as he maintains prudence despite his "worthiness" and high credibility as a fighter. This man is not a fool blinded with unreasonable bravery, but a clever man who knows the balance between caution and courage. He is also humble, wearing "a tunic of coarse cloth all stained by his coat of mail" (Chaucer 75-76). As shown in the narrator's remark saying "He was a truly perfect, noble knight," these characteristics all represent the Middle Age society's expectations toward nobles. An ideal aristocrat was required to be fearsome in battle yet dignified in the King's

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