Chaucer's "General Prologue" Analytical Essay by muffinman

Chaucer's "General Prologue"
A discussion on Geoffrey Chaucer's methods of introducing the Merchant, Clerk and Lawyer to the reader in the "General Prologue" of his "Canterbury Tales".
# 57597 | 2,231 words | 0 sources | 2004 | GB
Published on Apr 05, 2005 in Literature (English) , English (Analysis)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper examines how straight after he has described the three ecclesiastical figures in the "General Prologue", Chaucer goes on to describe those who work (the laborantes), the largest group in the Prologue. It shows how Chaucer generally has distaste for those emerging members of the middle-class in 14th Century England and treats the Merchant accordingly, with harsher than normal satire. It also looks at how more gentleness is applied to the assiduous Clerk and the Lawyer and how, in these portraits, Chaucer shows his finger to be on the pulse of a changing society.

From the Paper:

"Neither does Chaucer approve of the Merchant's morality. He breaks the law for profit and spends the money on lavish outfits, as Chaucer tells us in line 280, "in eschaunge sheeldes selle". He dealt in French ecus, which was illegal at the time, and used the ill-gotten gains to dress expensively, rather than pay off the debts he tries so hard to hide. His choice of attire may not seem too severe a sin, but when the Merchant's appearance is compared with the Knight (Chaucer's revered chivalric ideal figure), who wears humble garments with no hint of pretension, he seems a very despicable figure. In addition to this, he ignores religious orders, as he deals with "bargaines" and "chevissaunce", both of which were dealing in money, forbidden for Christians."

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Chaucer's "General Prologue" (2005, April 05) Retrieved May 27, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Chaucer's "General Prologue"" 05 April 2005. Web. 27 May. 2020. <>