What A Man-Canterbury Tales

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade September 2001

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What a Man In introducing his characters, Geoffrey Chaucer spans the entire spectrum of personal traits with his players in The Canterbury Tales. While most of them are totally corrupt and only out for themselves, there are several characters to whom I view as exemplary and admirable, at least for the most part. These people either possess values I feel I currently enjoy or traits I hope someday may be attached to my name. As the "General Prologue" opens up with the first character that appeared to Chaucer, that same person is the first one that comes to mind when I think of the most admirable and worthy characters in the story. With his chivalric ways, the Knight, without a doubt, is the person I admire most for several of his qualities and values. Chaucer describes the Knight as a man who "followed chivalry/ Truth, honor, generousness, and courtesy."

(45-6) While I know I am able to say I follow those same virtues most of the time, in my eyes the Knight is an amazing man for being able to stick to them for life. Another reason why I admire him is because of his success in his battles, as he always comes out on top as the victor. This is something that I hope to do in life, no matter what my battle may be or goal I hope to attain. For these qualities, as well as many others, the Knight is a character whose values and standards I not only admire but hope to replicate in my own life.

Additionally, in the Merchant, Chaucer illustrates a clean individual whose abilities are worthy of praise and respect. Despite being in debt, the Merchant proceeded to carry out his life and go on with his everyday business without allowing anyone to find out. While this may seem like he was hiding his status, I believe this is actually an amazing trait and something that should be commended. As Chaucer explains his situation, he says the Merchant put "His wits to work, none knew he was in debt"(290) as he was able to go on and run his business as usual, continuing to make loans and bargains, as well as negotiate with people. I feel he is worthy of admiration for being able to put on such a front because if I was ever in a situation where I was in trouble but wanted to keep it private and carry on with my life, I would want to handle it in the way that the Merchant did. Though he may seem like a deceptive person, the Merchant is a character I admire for not only keeping his business private but also carrying on with his life without panicking or feeling sorry for himself.

While both these characters exhibit values and traits that are admirable and I wish to someday possess, they are not the total package of qualities that I hope will someday embody me. Other individuals, such as the Oxford student's passion for his work and non-materialistic attitude, or the Miller's ability to be sly and take as much as possible without getting caught (while I don't aspire to be a thief someday, I do want to take advantage of any opportunity I get), possess certain characteristics that I admire and desire, though I would not choose to be entirely like them. Though Chaucer describes most characters in The Canterbury Tales as corrupt and disdainful, he does illustrate a few as worthy of praise and admiration.