Chaucer and Pity Analytical Essay

Chaucer and Pity
How Chaucer defines pity in the "Canterbury Tales", or an attempt to explicate the line " Pitee renneth soone in gentil herte."
# 61804 | 2,785 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Oct 27, 2005 in Literature (English) , English (Analysis)

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This paper attempts to understand and define the notion of pity, gentility, and nobleness in Chaucer's time as he wrote "The Canterbury Tales". The paper includes several scholarly sources which attempt to explain Chaucer's definition of what his idea of a noble or gentle man is. The paper includes observations from "The Knight's Tale", "The Merchant's Tale", "The Clerk's Tale" and "The Franklins' Tale", and all the sources from Chaucer are taken in Middle English.

From the Paper:

"In his essay "Chaucer and Pite," Douglas Gray records the relevant meanings of pity taken from the NED current to Chaucer's time as: (1) The quality of being pitiful; the disposition to mercy or compassion, clemency, mercy, mildness or tenderness . . . (2) A feeling or emotion of tenderness aroused by the suffering, distress, or misfortune of another, and prompting a desire for its relief; compassion, sympathy . . . (3) a ground or cause for pity . . . and (4) a condition calling for pity (Gray, 179). Pitee is used in various contextual manners in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale, The Merchant's Tale, The Clerk's Tale, and The Franklins' Tale, but each time the word is used, it indicates feeling. Even when the word means grief in The Knight's Tale when the people mourn for Arcite's death- "Allas, the pitee that was ther"- rather than compassion or sympathy as it usually refers to, the word still appeals to feelings since grief involves intense emotions (2833). Like gentilesse, trouthe, or franchise, pitee is an important word for Chaucer since he often employs the word and in a way tries to define its essence through its repetitions."

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