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Chaucer-The Nature Of Man Essay, Research Paper

7/4/00

The Nature of Man

Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of Canterbury Tales, gives a realistic view of Middle English life at this time, and can be applied to modern life. The fact that Chaucer wrote in the vernacular illustrates that these tales were written for the common man, so that they could look at themselves. The themes of honor, marital rule, and the belief of the supernatural are indicators that the nature of man is constant. Chaucer, having the opportunity to work with many humans, tells tales that have themes that are relevant today. The questions of “What is the honorable thing to do?” along with stories that glorify the Virgin Mary and justify sovereignty of one spouse or the other ring true today. No matter how advanced man becomes our nature still remains the same. The instincts for sociability, security, and sex still drive man today.

The theme of honor is present in the Knight’s tale and the Miller’s Tale. The Knight’s Tale is told so that the Knight’s son, and man, can see that good love and persistence pay off in the end. Chivalry is the code to live by. This ideal man is present today in firemen and policemen. The honorable acts of these men are revered. The Miller’s Tale uses this theme of honor in the opposite direction. The tale of Alison and Nicholas attempting to betray the husband illustrates the consequences of dishonor. In today’s society, when a public person is engaged in dishonorable activity it is placed in public view for general knowledge and opinion. Honor is a virtue that is held in high accord yesteryear and still today.

The discussion of who is to be the sovereign power in a marriage has been the backdrop for many literary pieces both ancient and contemporary. The Wife of Bath argues that what women most long for is sovereignty, while the Clerk notes in his tale that all will go well as long as the man if given sovereignty. His example of patient Griselda is the classic case of male dominance. To balance things out Chaucer inserts the tale of the Franklin, which states that equality is the best. Who is right, who is wrong? This is the age-old question. Today this battle is still breaking up relationships. This issue will never be universally resolved.

The theme of superstition is a common one still used today. When people have trouble explaining strange occurrences or want to prove a point they will often times resort to a tale of superstition or of control by a higher being. The Greeks used gods, Chaucer’s pilgrims used the church (Virgin Mary), and today God or the aliens are used to explain things. In the Prioress’s tale the faith of a small child in the Virgin Mary is used to explain miracles. In times of high stress, such a death, the supernatural is used to comfort. Catholics will use the ritual of rosary reciting to assure themselves that their loved loves have been prayed into heaven. The supernatural is used today, as in all time, to explain situations that people have difficulty accepting.

The nature of man is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Technology has allowed man to advance, but the driving force of man remains the same. Honor will always be a key virtue to posses. The sovereignty questions will always arise in relationships and the belief in the supernatural will always survive as long as there is the unexplained. Chaucer writing in the vernacular allows man to see man as he really is and should be. Those instincts of needing to be accepted, safe and have sex will always drive and get man in sticky situations. The consistency of nature allows man to see that they are really not that complex and ever evolving. The comfort is really all about getting your needs meet. When man attempts to get his wants met before his needs problems occur.


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