Canterbury Tales - Humour

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Humor was used in the medieval time period to express one's ideas and thoughts. Geoffrey Chaucer also used humor in The Canterbury Tales in different instances. In "The Nun's Priest Tale" and "The Miller's Tale" I will show you how he uses humor to describe characters, his use of language and the actual events that take place. In the "Nun's Priest Tale" there is a rooster named Chaunticleer. His name suggests a fine knight or noble prince. The description of a rooster as a noble prince in courtly love romances is ridiculas and maybe this is what keeps us from taking him to seriously in this story. Nicholas, a clerk or scholar, from "The Miller's Tale" also has a ironic name. His name suggests St. Nicholas from plays about a mysterious guest at the home of evil hosts. In the story, however, it's the other way around. In Chaunticleer's description Chaucer uses a contrasting humor.

The rooster acts as a noble knight or prince when in reality he is only a barnyard animal. The description of the barnyard animals brings an undercut from the courtly love that occurs throughout the tale. The reminds you to think that Chaunticleer and Pertelote are only animals which brings about a hilarious effect. With Nicholas, a lowly clerk, portraying a higher class gentleman when in essence he just wants a sexual pursuit and the meaning of his name uses an ironic humor to show he is an idiot. With John, the carpenter, Alison, his wife, and Absalom, the priest, in "The Miller's Tale" they also put on "airs" of being an upper class citizen.. They also bring you back to the basic idea they are common people just putting on a show for each other. The humor in description is very plentiful and Chaucer...