Chaucer's Outlook on Human Nature Based on observations in "The Canterbury Tales".

Essay by SpreadHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2003

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Geoffrey Chaucer introduces readers of The Canterbury Tales to an assortment of characters, each with their own unique and notable features. Aside from the obvious differences, like their profession and their raiment, the characters described in the general Prologue have their own personalities, many of which are tainted in some way or another.

Chaucer lived through a lot. After escaping the Black Death, he became a page for Prince Lionel, one of the sons of King Edward III, around 1357. Not long after becoming a yeoman for Lionel, Chaucer was kidnapped by French enemies of Prince Lionel in 1360. By 1367, Chaucer had become a an official Valet for King Edward III. In truth, Chaucer was never really a writer, but more of a civil servant to monarchs. With his duties came the traveling which probably inspired some of his writings and made them more detailed. Chaucer must have met a variety of people while working in the royal courts.

His entire life was as a civil servant and he had ample time to make thorough observations of humans and their nature.

After reading just the Prologue, it is clear that Chaucer had a grim take on human nature. Nearly every character described has some sort of flaw. The most popular one was avarice. Even the characters that are expected to be honorable, such as the Doctor and the Summoner, are spoiled by greed.

A doctor is the one person that can properly assign medicine to ill patients. A doctor is supposed to be honest and do his best to cure you of your sickness. Unfortunately, our Doctor is corrupt. Driven by cupidity, the Doctor has a deal with the local apothecary to prescribe unnecessary drugs for a mere profit.

All his apothecaries in a tribe

Were ready...