Romance and Satire in the Tales of Chaucer

Essay by chickadee225 April 2004

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The attitude toward sexual love expressed in "The Reeve's Tale" of Chaucer's fabliau tale and the attitude expressed in a chivalric romance, such as "The Knight's Tale" are extremely different. The relationships between the attitude toward love displayed in the tales and the narrative devices of the tales are very contrasting. The differences are expressed through the varying manner that love is expressed, the roles of women, and the categorizing of social classes.

The expression of love, portrayal of women, and the categorization of social class exemplifies the relationships between the attitudes of these two tales. "The Knight's Tale" is a romance that encapsulates the themes and ideals of courtly love. In this tale love is like an illness that can change the appearance, the lover risks death to win favor with his lady, and for many years they pine away hopelessly for an unattainable woman.

"The fairness of the lady that I see roaming the garden yonder to and fro is all the cause, and I cried out my woe". On the other hand, "The Reeve's Tale", is solely based on sexual drive and lechery. In the tale, John and Alan rape the Miller's wife and daughter to get back at him for the grain that he stole off of them. This is obviously the other extreme of romance and sex that is displayed in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The rape of these two women degraded their reputation and hurt them emotionally for nothing else but vengeance. "I tell ye, John, as sure as I'm a man, I'm going to have that wench there, if I can". The essence of social classification has a great impact on the attitudes of the tales. For example, in "The Knight's Tale", Emily is of the higher social class...