Humor in "The Canterbury Tales" Book Review by mikkenzi

Humor in "The Canterbury Tales"
An analysis of the theme of humor in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales".
# 99975 | 3,447 words | 9 sources | MLA | 2005 | FR
Published on Dec 09, 2007 in Literature (English) , English (Analysis)

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This study of humor in "The Canterbury Tales" begins with an examination of the building blocks of laughter in some of the narratives and attempts to demonstrate that the humor used by Chaucer is multifaceted and sometimes equivocal. The paper then turns to the definition of "humor" in the Middle Ages and pays specific attention to instances of slapstick comedy, parody and burlesque within the tales. Finally, the paper tackles the subtleties of humor within the tales and provides some reflections on the presence of irony and satire.

From the Paper:

"The readers of the Canterbury Tales are often able to elicit much laughing matter out of the pilgrims' narratives because humour in the tales is present on several levels. On the one hand, the pilgrims laugh at customs and traditions, at members of society and behaviours they condemn. They also tease each other within their own narratives and sneer at other pilgrims who are their rivals. On the other hand, the pilgrims themselves, as characters of the frame story, become subjects of mockery and this is especially valid for The General Prologue. They tell a great variety of tales, all of which could be found humorous or witty to some extent. These tales are interlinked and one of the particularities that bind them together is the use of humour. Humour gives unity to the tales and banishes uniformity. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales (rendered into Modern English by J. U. Nicolson), Giant Thrift Editions, Dover and New York: Dover Publications Inc., 2004
  • Brewer, Derek. "The Canterbury Tales I: Love and Rivalry; Tragedy and Comedy", A New Introduction to Chaucer, London and New York: Longman, 1998, pages 277 - 376
  • Lawrence, William Witherle. "The Fabliau Tales", Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales, London and New York: Columbia University Press, 1964, pages 72 - 85
  • Pearsall, Derek. 'The Canterbury Tales II: comedy', The Cambridge Companion to Chaucer (ed. Piero Boitani), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pages 160 - 177
  • Pope, Rob. 'Irony and Satire, Comedy and Carnival', How to Study Chaucer, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000, pages 179 - 185

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