Canterbury Tales Essay: Geoffrey Chaucer's Attention to Detail

Essay by ccuukHigh School, 10th gradeA-, October 2014

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Corine Cucolo

English 10H


16 October 2014

Geoffrey Chaucer's Attention to Detail

In The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales the reader gains insight into each character because of Chaucer's use of ornate descriptions for each and every one. As quoted by H.S. Bennett, "No detail was too small for him to observe, and from it he could frequently draw… conclusions which would have escaped many." Specifically, the Merchant, the Clerk, and the Wife of Bath exemplify "Chaucer's poetic sensibility" in The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

The characteristics of the Merchant support Bennett's idea that Chaucer left out no details. For instance Chaucer writes, "A Merchant was there with a forked beard,/ In motelee, and high on horse he sat,/ Upon his head a Flemish hat" (pg 200 lns 272-274). By describing that the Merchant sits high on his horse, it implies that he thinks highly of himself and also that he is a wealthy man.

For a man to sit high on a horse he needs to be proper which lets the reader know that the Merchant is a man with money. However, Chaucer lets the reader know that the Merchant actually is in debt but "There knew no person that he was in debt/ So stately was he of his governaunce" (pg 200 lns 282-283). No one was aware of the Merchant's financial situation because he kept his affairs in order and kept a dignified demeanor. As well as describing the Merchant, Chaucer also describes a Clerk with great detail.

In addition to the Merchant, Chaucer also writes about the Clerk who is a student of the church. In The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales Chaucer uses the horse of each character to provide further details about the character. For example, he describes the Clerk's horse...