The Rise Of The Middle Class In Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

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England was a difficult place to live in the medieval times if one was not born into a noble family. If one was not considered to be a noble from birth, then that person would likely have little to nothing for their entire life. The only real way that a person could improve their position would be to become a part of the church or perform a great feat that would cause a king to crown them as a noble. This was because there were only three real classes in England in the medieval times: the nobility, the clergy, and the peasants. The nobility consisted of kings and other people that were rich, had a lot of land, or held important positions in the government. This class also included knights that fought for their lords. The clergy consisted of …show more content…
The first is that he shows the increasing middle class population. Many of the characters within Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales fit into at least one of the many molds and careers that would make them part of the middle class. The Reeve would be considered a part of the middle class because his job holds a higher, more honorable status than a simple peasant. As the leader of a village, the Reeve was respected by many peasants. He also held a higher social standing in matters regarding the nobility since he led those of the bottom class. Characters like the Merchant and the Wife of Bath are considered a part of the middle class because their careers were considered honorable and more noble than that of peasants, similar to the Reeve. However, they have a higher status in the middle class due to the fact that their careers allow them to make money for themselves. People with those types of careers were respected for their honorable jobs, money, and achievement at making their own businesses. This made them a part of the middle class, just as it would …show more content…
Previously, when upper classmen, such as knights, interacted with peasants, they would treat them as such. They expected more respect from the peasants due to their class and gave the peasants little respect, at least within the limits of their chivalric vows in the case of knights. However, we can see that this is not the case in The Canterbury Tales. Instead, we can see that all of the characters seem to respect those that are part of the middle class. The knight, a member of the nobility, for example, shows great respect towards all of the members of the middle class. He does not act as if he is above the other pilgrims, or that they should respect him as an official on the journey. Rather, he acts as if he is just another pilgrim on the journey. He wishes to hear good, fun tales from all people, those of the middle and lower classes included. This attitude that is displayed by the knight shows that the upper class was starting to recognize the power of the middle class, and was beginning to respect people from the middle class. This is also reinforced because the Oxford Clerk, a member of the middle class due to his education, is one of the most well respected pilgrims by all of the others, showing that the middle class was growing in power, influence, and

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