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ENG 2003: World Lit I Module 12-A DQs
Terms in this set (20)
1. What was significant about Chaucer's decision to write in English?
The lay people would have spoken Middle English as a result of the Norman invasion in 1066. Those of high society (particularly children in schools) were taught to drop their own language in order to accomplish tasks in French so that they would be thought of as more. Yet despite this tradition the noblesse had begun to incorporate English more into their lives namely King Edward I who enjoyed English poetry.
2. What and where was the Tabard Inn?
Tabard Inn was located South of London. This is the place where the group in the story happen to meet before heading to Canterbury cathedral for a spring pilgrimage to see the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket.
But here he was describing a setting that wasn't really about how England was in April, but how France was at that time of year. It was a conventional description and we can see that this was another metaphor or allegory for the world where we are all pilgrims.
3. How does The General Prologue serve as a "device" for The Canterbury Tales? What secondary purpose did this device then serve in turn?
The prologue of this story uses a device called a "Frame." This is what sets the scenario for stories, and makes it easier for the reader. This device creates realism.
Chaucer sets up his tales by providing the pilgrimage as a frame for them. They are sandwiched between the super-structure of the pilgrimage--the pilgrims tell each other stories to pass the time on their way to Canterbury. It makes the tale-telling more believable because it provides a purpose. The frame device is a realistic "vehicle" for the tales.
4. Another element of realism is Chaucer's eye for authenticating detail. What elements of verisimilitude can you identify in the description of the Knight beginning at line 44?
Verisimilitude, or a "semblance of reality", could be seen in Chaucer's work because of how he paid attention to colloquialism and real speech patterns, which allows the reader to get an insight into not only their social class, but also their moral and spiritual status. An example of verisimilitude is the description of the Knight. Chaucer writes as if he is an observer.
5. Define estates satire and explain how The General Prologue is one.
The English society in those days were divided into three classes, a.k.a "estates", which included nobility, clergy and laborers. An estate satire is therefore a commentary on the members of these classes, which is exactly what Chaucer did in his writing. It is a satire because he effectively criticizes the main social classes of this time.
6. Explain the rhetorical structure of The General Prologue.
There is a three-part rhetorical structure to the Prologue: the Introduction (description of the physical location), Body (character description), and the Conclusion (narrative framework).
7. Briefly summarize Chaucer's description of the Nun/Prioress (lines 118-64) and the Friar (lines 208-69). Explain any anomaly about either person.
The Nun is a woman of great elegance, suggesting she is quiet attractive as well. The woman also speaks sharply of the French language. She is sensitive to violence especially when done unto those incapable of defending themselves fully. Going on to meet the Friar he is similar to the nun in his elegance.
He is described as a handsome man with jovial character. An anomaly in his character is he talks about his "exclusive rights in which to beg." Which is strange that a man of God would have some sort of set area where he is solely allowed to take money from people.
8. How did the the Nun/Prioress and the Friar exemplify or contradict the cultural expectations of this period?
Both were described as very beautiful for people of their time, and very elegant and charming people which was not expected of people in their positions at the time.
9. Explain the relationship between chivalry and feudalism. What part did comitatus play in this relationship?
Chivalry was vital for feudalism because it helped establish a knight's duty in service to his lord. Feudalism spread the power out among classes, with each class being under the next and owing something to the class above them.
In most cases, this exchange was land for knights, or land for military service. Knights then, were placed directly under the lords. His service to that lord was both a military obligation, as well as a religious one. Chivalry was the moral code that held this system in place for knights.
Comitatus, or the respect for the hierarchy or kingship, filled any gaps chivalry had left. It helped to further establish the hierarchy and keep the feudal system running.
10. Explain the French concept of noblesse oblige (pronounced "no BLESS oh BLEEGE") and how it was related to chivalry.
Noblesse Oblige is French for "noble obligations' meaning, usually, a person of high social class is to act honorably to others. This concept stresses honor, honesty, humility, duty, courage, loyalty and generosity.
11. Explain Chaucer's use of the triple negative concerning the Knight. How would you characterize the Knight?
12. Describe at least one inconsistency each about Madame Eglantine, the Monk, and the Friar.
Madame Eglantine aka The Prioress: she tries to seem dainty but she's actually a very large woman, which speaks to the fact that her priorities lie in vanity, rather than with her religious duties.
The Monk: he is supposed to live a life of deprivation and hard work, but instead lives with luxury and ease
The Friar: he is not like a poor scholar friar, but more like a master or a pope. His extracurricular activities are inappropriate for his profession: he likes to hang out with wealthy landowners, barmaids, noblewomen, and tavern owners instead of spending time with the poor and the sick.
13. Compare the "Oxford Student" to a modern one; be specific and include the line numbers of your specific points of comparison for reference.
The clerk/scholar of Oxford is so poor that he is emaciated and his horse is as skinny as a rake. When he does have money he prefers to spend it on books rather than food or clothes; he diligently prays for the souls of those who lend him money for books and lessons, that he speaks little but what he does say is always virtuous, and that
14. Explain Chaucer's allusion to the philosopher's stone regarding the student of Oxford (Oxenford) and provide the line numbers.
15. Briefly characterize the Lawyer and compare him to a modern one; state the line numbers on which you base your characterization.
He speaks well, writes an air-tight contract, and knows his case law by heart. His professional success seems to have led to great financial success as well, for which he is known as a great land-buyer. However, the satire is that he might actually be kind of lazy and he just seems to be a lot more busy than he really is.
16. Briefly characterize the Wife of Bath and state the line numbers on which you base your characterization.
She dresses expensively, and is physically also larger than life. She seems to fit in the stereotype that lustful people cannot control their passions. However, she actually has a very successful cloth-making business. Chaucer's description of her is representing the medieval estate, or social class, of wifehood. She's given a chance to answer her critics during the pilgrimage.
17. Briefly characterize the Parson and state the line numbers on which you base it.
The Parson aka parish priest: his presence on the pilgrimage is necessary because it serves a reminder/guide for what a religious figure is supposed to be like.
Unlike the Friar or the Monk, who fail to practice what they preach, he actually lives in poverty in order to give to the poor and visits his parishioners no matter what.
18. Explain the Parson's metaphor that he added to the gospel.
The Parson added his own metaphor to the Bible. He said that, "If the gold rusts, what will the iron do?" This was meant to convey the concept that a person is trying their best to live up to a certain standard that is based on a Biblical standard or Biblical concept.
The gold refers to priests and holy men, which are meant to symbolize purity, love and noblesse oblige whereas the iron refers to common man.
19. In the narrator's conclusion to the Prologue and the transition to the Tales, what does the Host or Innkeeper propose?
He proposes a tale-telling competition (tell two tales; one on the way to Canterbury and one on the way home) and provides a reward in the bargain (whoever tells the best tales gets supper at the expense of everyone else). He's a businessman, after all.
20. Explain at least one parody involved in The Nun's Priest's Tale.
Several parodies are made including epic poetry, medieval scholarship, and courtly romance.
i.e. hero's dreaming of death and courting his lady love, in a manner that imitates the overblown, descriptive style of romances. For example, the rooster's plumage is described as shining like burnished gold.
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