In The Canterbury Tales Geoff ery Chaucer illuminates the na ve viewpoint of the narrator in the descriptions of the characters. This is shown by the way the narrator often extols the characters, despite some obvious discrepancies. The Cook is an example of this. The narrator describes the cook as being a more than adequate chef, yet in the middle of the description he throws in That on his shine a moral hadde he, (Chaucer 388).
This passage is making reference to an ulcer on the Cook s shin, which is showing him as not the cleanest of individuals.
Moreover one can see a more worldly individual would have had a hard time looking past the Cook s sordid appearance, especially in relation to the food he made. Even worse is the fact that his description of the Cook s abilities comes probably from what the cook had said to the narrator rather than actual experience with his food, although the narrator does make specific reference to the Cook s pudding. This willingness to believe in a characters testimony is also evident in the description of the Knight. The narrator expresses the Knight s astonishing military accomplishments without doubt of the Knight s exaggeration. Yet the many conquests the Knight said his took part in occurred all over the world. Above alle nations in Price (Prussia); in Let tuo had he revised (campaigned), and in Ruse (Russia) no Christen man so often of his degree; in Gerade (Granada) at the see eek hadde he be.
Why did the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight include a character with a bizarre complexion and magical abilities? Why do most people do weird things? Unfortunately, there is no obvious reason for the latter; however, there are quite a few explanations for the former. “The Pearl Poet,” as the unknown author is referred, wrote the poem around the late 1300s in England—a time and place in ...
Of Algezir, and ride in Belmar ye; at Lye is was he and at Sata lye, (Chaucer 53-58) Anyone with a vague knowledge of geography would have realized that the Knight could not have possibly taken part in all these campaigns. The narrator s failure to recognize this shows the extent to the narrator s naivety. Furthermore, a reader might often find that the narrator is not really sagacious in his judgment of the characters, in fact for the mos part his judgments seem largely based on sophistry. This sophistry can be directly attributed to his puerile view of the world. This poor discernment of virtue is blatantly obvious in his description of the Friar. The narrator says, Ther was no man now her so virtuous (virtuous) (Chaucer 251).
However earlier in the text he is said to He knew the taverns wel in every town, and every hostile (innkeeper) and tape stere (Barmaid), bet (better) than a lazar or a beggestere (beggar).
One can conclude from this passage that the narrator is not a truly wise judge of character, but an exceedingly na ve individual, based on his claims that a Friar who better knows the barmaids than beggars is a virtuous man. In this way the Chaucer uses the narrator to create a sort of paradoxical humor with the descriptions, in some cases leaving the opinion of the narrator as a kind of non sequitur that differs greatly from the individual deportment of a character. Overall the descriptions of the characters in The Canterbury Tales can be seen as an attestation of the impressionability of the narrator. There for the descriptions of the characters highlight the na ve viewpoint of the narrator.
by Pete Smith.