Canterbury Tales The Theme Of Pilgrimage English Literature Essay

In this paper I would wish to analyze, Pilgrimage as one of the major subject of Canterbury Tales. How Chaucer presents the subject of pilgrim’s journey and how this really thought has been critiqued in this text. Chaucer wrote Canterbury Tales some where between 1387-1400. The Tales describes the journey of 29 people who travel as pilgrims, and the frame storyteller weaves the narratives of their journey.Initially, it was determined that each pilgrim would state two narratives on their manner to Canterbury and two on their manner back. However, Chaucer could non complete this tremendous undertaking.

Chaucer chiefly presents a societal overview of pilgrim’s journey through his narratives. Fourteenth century England can non be separated from a Christian worldview. Though, it is interesting to observe, how Chaucer presents a text which is wholly out of a Christian order. My statement in this essay focuses on the inquiry: Is Chaucer ‘s Canterbury Tales a text on Pilgrimage or non?

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The scene of Canterbury Tales is about like a “ carnivalesque ” puting. There is clear corruption of societal order in the Tales. Through out the Narratives, we get to see a bleary position on the thought of pilgrim’s journey. We find a subverted order, jubilations, hilarity and drama. It is merely the Parson ‘s Tale which provides a treatise on “ seven lifelessly ” wickednesss and “ repentance ” , alternatively of “ merry ” narratives. The Tales ends with Parson ‘s Tale were he proposes to talk something “ virtuous ” and non “ fabrications ” . For fabrications where seen as deplorable lies ; as St. Paul has mentioned in missive to Timothy. On the other manus what Chaucer gives us is a descriptive history of a secular journey. We ne’er get to cognize, whether the pilgrims of all time reach Canterbury or non. Even within the Tales there is merely a minimum mention to supplications or repentance. The Tales merely stop with Chaucer ‘s Retraction. In his abjuration Chaucer asks forgiveness for those plants, which project secular amour propres. Alternatively he thanks God for his grace bestowed on him in doing him finish his moral plants and interlingual renditions. He confesses for his secular plants and seeks for true repentance.

To get down with my statement, I would wish to cite Bloomfield ‘s essay on ‘Chaucerian Realism’.In this essay he refers Canterbury Tales to a “ spiritual genre ” which catered to “ human wonder about other lands and unusual topographic points ” . My point is so: is pilgrim’s journey is therefore to seek “ other ” unusual topographic points, and non to seek penitence? A mention to Chinua Achebe ‘s Things Fall Apart will seemingly be a limpid illustration. The White Man ‘s “ Burden ” is possibly, so a Europocentric impression of pilgrim’s journey! The point that I shall wish to stress is the construct of “ load ” with mention to pilgrimage in Canterbury Tales. Chaucer ‘s representation of Knight ‘s runs to Alexandria, Lithuania and Russiaaˆ¦etc can be seen in the visible radiation of early imperialism. ” He had raided in Lithuania and Russia ” ( General Prologue, lines 50-55 ) , the thought behind the early runs in the Medieval England was to contend for the “ Christian ” religion. Jesus in his instructions referred to agonies and wretchednesss as a worldly “ load ” that every Christian has to transport in order to come in land of Eden. He said to transport one ‘s ain cross as a symbol of a true load in a manner to seek redemption. However, what has been represented through out the ages is mere a assumed representation of Christian values. Chaucer in his every effort tries to deconstruct the very impressions of these false representations. He invariably inquiries and criticizes the church order.

Chaucer highlights the load of the wickednesss, carried over by the pilgrims. As he frequently exaggerates the leaning of their frailties to a amusing degree. Ironically, the pilgrims even fail to understand the intent of their journey.

There is no uncertainty that Chaucer had a spiritual dimension in his head when he chose pilgrim’s journey as the frame narrative for his narratives. Indeed the full mediaeval century, presented pilgrim’s journey as a major subject of their plants. For case, William Langland ‘s ‘Piers Plowman ‘ nowadayss the subject of a religious journey in order to seek truth. However, Chaucer ‘s Canterbury Tales, though it is set in a spiritual Background of a pilgrim’s journey, but it merely remains in the background. The frame narrative is non the existent mover of the narratives. Kittredge points that the pilgrims do non be for the interest of the narratives but frailty versa. But so narratives could hold existed even if there were n’t any “ pilgrims ” to narrate the Tales. There is no spiritual mentality in Chaucer ‘s Canterbury Tales. Even if we remove the outer frame work of pilgrim’s journey out of Canterbury Tales, still the narratives will hold relevancy. My accent is that Chaucer ne’er attempts to give moral thought of pilgrim’s journey. Even within the narratives he parodies the traditional belief of sing the relics of saints. Ironically, Chaucer ‘s storyteller is besides a fellow pilgrim.

In the forgiver ‘s Tale, the forgiver asks the host to snog the Pardoner ‘s relics foremost, to this the host garbages and answers that the forgiver may even maintain his “ old knee pantss ” as relics.

Furthermore, the narratives are non about pilgrim’s journey and supplications. We ne’er get to see Monks prophesying or nun ‘s praying. Interestingly, in the General Prologue Chaucer really carefully satirizes the spiritual hierarchy. Jill Mann refers to General Prologue to the “ estate sarcasms ” . The Canterbury Tales begins with the debut of each of the piligrims.They include a knight, his boy a squire, the knight ‘s beefeater, a abbess accompanied by a 2nd nun and the nun ‘s priest, a monastic, a mendicant, a merchandiser, a clerk, a sergeant of jurisprudence, a Franklin, a clothier, a carpenter, a weaver, a dyer, a tapestry weaver, a cook, a shipman, a physician of purgative, a married woman of Bath, a curate, his brother a ploughman, a Miller, a manciple, a reeve, a summoner, a forgiver, the host, and a portrayal of Chaucer himself. The pilgrims are introduced in a societal order, depicting the aristocracy in forepart, the craftsmen in the center, and the provincials at the terminal. A canon and his beefeater subsequently fall in the pilgrim’s journey and state one of the narratives.

Although the chief thought of this text is that of the pilgrim’s journey, and this is the ground why all the characters get together: the pilgrim’s journey to Canterbury, nevertheless the storyteller seems to underscore some other facets. The manner he describes certain inside informations, and the narrative that every pilgrim narratives tend to indicate something more than a journey.

In my sentiment, Chaucer tries to uncover more about the society and the manner it is organized utilizing this whole thought of pilgrim’s journey. His characters, which are carefully chosen, show a different degree of socialization.The frame storyteller provides the readers with a “ sincere ” representation of the pilgrims in their manner to Canterbury ; he begins with depicting the idiosyncrasy and visual aspects and extends to a larger commentary of the 14th century. Leicester, possibly reads the General Prologue non simply as a “ traditionally conceived gallery of neutrally observed ‘portraits ‘ ” , but as the “ psychological ego disclosure ” of narrator/author. Chaucer creates three dimensional figures ; he presents the coloring material, texture and the actuality to the scene. There is a clear “ cross-section ” of the 14th century human scene. Yet, the pilgrims manage to showcase a communal feeling. The pilgrim’s journey is viewed similar to carnival. Just as merriment and play is the portion of carnival. Chaucer ‘s pilgrim’s journey besides carries a parallel feeling.

The repeating image in Tales is imagination of carnivalesque. The pilgrims indulge in secular pleasances of feeding, imbibing and basking themselves speaking about sex and bodily maps. The pilgrim’s journey is seen as a “ recreation ” instead than a spiritual journey.

A pilgrim’s journey by definition is spiritual in character, nevertheless what is offered by Chaucer is a true jubilation of life. The “ piercing ” of April showers into the “ drouth ” of March, in a manner is an imagination of birth and new life. The eschatological facet of Canterbury Tales is transcended. There is a larger significance of life, where people are true to their desires and feelings. The feast imagination is a popular imagination in a carnivalesque literature. Similarly, in Canterbury Tales, the feast at the tabard hostel subverts the apparent end of this pilgrim’s journey.

It is therefore to state, there is a displacement from the religious end of achieving redemption, to the physical bodily desire. There is a transmutation from the religious facet to the mercenary desire. The accent is laid on achieving the pleasances of life. The imagination of supper as the award at the terminal of the narratives is juxtaposed to the Christ ‘s last supper. Jesus Christ ‘s last supper with his adherents, is a symbolic gesture of his psyche ‘s journey to heaven. Similarly, Chaucer excessively attempts to give a symbolic significance to their secular journey to the shrine of Canterbury with the award of supper at the Tabard hostel. However, the difference is Christ ‘s journey is complete, but Chaucer ‘s journey is uncomplete. Unfortunately, we ne’er get to cognize who won the competition at the terminal.

However, what accounts in the reading by the critics, is that there is divergence from the “ spiritual ” construct of pilgrim’s journey to a “ literary ” construct of pilgrim’s journey. The full thought of pilgrim’s journey is shifted to the subject of story-telling. The apposition of narratives to the dramatic model of the pilgrim’s journey is the larger counter of Chaucer ‘s manner. The five twenty-four hours pilgrim’s journey to Canterbury is seen in the visible radiation of five – act structured drama in a play.

The phases of the journey represents, intensifying dramatic consequence as seen in a play.

The first twenty-four hours opens with a strong representation of knightly ideal in love and war.

The Knight ‘s narrative is full of baronial characters placed in a classical scene, with an elevated subject. The narrative is set in the fabulous Greece. Chaucer ‘s chief beginning for this Tale was Boccacio ‘s Teseida. Chaucer transforms Boccacio ‘s classical heroic poem and love narrative into a knightly image of mediaeval knighthood. Then it is followed by Miller ‘s and Reeve ‘s Tale.

Chaucer in both the narratives manages to blend in monstrous elements. He strikes a balance between obscenity and coarseness. Both the narratives are good received by audience.

The cook ‘s narrative is an uncomplete narrative. The 2nd twenty-four hours is seen more literary in sense ; The Man of Law raises several critical inquiries. He presents a Christian subject of religion. The moral is that the good Christian must ever be true to his religion. In the tale Constance suffers poorness, sorrow, licking and besides prosperity, felicity and triumph, but through all these phases, her religion remains changeless. She epitomizes all the Christian virtuousnesss of religion, hope and charity, and the reader is impressed with her humbleness. The married woman of Bath ‘s narrative is a narrative sing the subject of matrimony. However as stated by Prof. Kittredge it was Wife of Bath ‘s narrative that initiated a argument between the chap pilgrims. She begins a group of new act in the play. The married woman of Bath is seen to some extent a lampoon of the faithful ‘Constance ‘ in the Man of Law ‘s narrative.

The Friar and the Summoner ‘s narrative is a elusive commentary made by Chaucer on the Catholic Church order. The Clerk ‘s narrative is juxtaposed to the Wife of Bath ‘s narrative. The Clerk concludes his narrative, stating all adult females should be chaste like Griselda, who has passed all the trials laid down by her hubby. The Merchant ‘s narrative excessively, reiterates the subject of matrimony. The Squire ‘s Tale is interrupted by Franklin. Interestingly, Franklin ‘s Tale is one such narrative which ends with happy note. The Doctor ‘s tale terminal with a sad note, with the decease of Virginia.Chaucer has taken this narrative from Titus Livius, a Roman historiographer, but it has been greatly embellished by Chaucer in his Narrative. The Physician surely dramatizes the state of affairs by holding the male parent cut off his girl ‘s caput for the interest of the award of his household. The host was upset by the Physician ‘s narrative, in peculiar the unreliable behaviour of the justice. He turns to the Pardoner requesting that he should state a more agreeable story.A The Pardoner, before get downing his narrative, gives information to the Pilgrims refering the methods he uses in prophesying. He uses as his text “ Radix malorum est cupidatis ” which is “ love of money is the root of all evil ” . He carries with him a assortment of relics which are available for sale. He encourages the Pilgrims to be unselfish. However, he so confesses that he himself is a secular adult male and likes money, rich nutrient and all right life.

The Pardoner ‘s narrative is a moral narrative. The moral of his narrative was that root of all immorality is money. Chaucer deliberately gave this narrative to the Pardoner. Here once more Chaucer takes the chance to foreground the lip service of the Medieval Church, through his portraiture of the Pardoner. It is the old narrative of the Pardoner non practising what he preaches. The Pardoner sells Pardons and Indulgences to evildoers by the authorization of the Pope, and it is no happenstance that Chaucer depicts him as the most evil of the Pilgrims. Again in the Shipman ‘s narrative he launches another onslaught on the Ecclesiastical community, at the same clip there is double subject of gender political relations.

Subsequently in the twenty-four hours, Chaucer ‘s storyteller presents a lampoon of Sir Thopas. This is followed by Monk ‘s calamity and Nun ‘s priest ‘s mock heroic narrative.

The 3rd twenty-four hours carries a spiritual note on the martyrdom of St. Cecilia. But the temper is shortly interrupted by an unexpected narrative by the Canon and his Yeoman. The following twenty-four hours is followed by the cook ‘s and the Manciple ‘s prologue and narrative. He narrates on the subject of matrimony. The subject of matrimony is recurred subsequently even when the pilgrims pass through Sittingbourne. And, in conclusion so we have the reasoning narrative by the Parson. The Parson advises that it is God ‘s desire that all work forces should go to the heavenly metropolis and non die in the fires of hell.A There are many ways in which to go to paradise.A One manner is through repentance and keening for one ‘s ain wickednesss. He so gives in a greater item on the seven lifelessly wickednesss, these wickednesss adult male should avoid, such as enviousness, sloth, gluttony, and lechery. Interestingly, all of which have appeared in the narratives told by the Pilgrims.A

He urges that those present should squeal their wickednesss and obtain satisfaction and God ‘s grace.The five act construction of this dramatic pilgrim’s journey is concluded by Chaucer the writer. The frame storyteller is taken over by Chaucer himself. In his Retraction he concludes his work. However, critics question the dependability of this abjuration. However, the abjuration befits the subject of storytelling more than his subject of making the shrine. As David Knapp clearly points out there is “ so a profound thematic sarcasm in the construction of the Tales ” . Even though Chaucer ends his pilgrim’s journey to Canterbury with the spiritual note, yet the pilgrim’s journey is seen as a societal jaunt.

The metaphor of a journey is an built-in portion of the narratives. The fictional journey in the ‘Canterbury Tales ‘ is juxtaposed to the literary journey. The pilgrim’s journey therefore can be seen as the literary journey of Chaucer as the poet.

Plants Sited

Morton W. Bloomfield, Chaucerian Realism, The Cambridge Chaucer Companion. Ed. Piero Boitani and Jill Mann ( 1986 ) .

Jill Mann, Chaucer and Medieval Estate Satire, The Literature of Social Classes and the General Prologue to the ‘Canterbury Tales ‘ ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973 )

H. Marshall Leicester, Jr Structure as Deconstruction: ‘Chaucer and Estate Satire ‘ in the General Prologue. Or Reading Chaucer as a Prologue to the History of Disenchantment.

Muriel Bowden The influence of Chaucer ‘s Everyday Life.

Charles Muscatine, The Canterbury Narratives: manner of the adult male and the manner of the work.

Charles A. Owen, The program of the Canterbury Pilgrimage

Muriel Bowden, Influence of Chaucer ‘s Chivalric universe

George Lymann Kittredge: Marriage Group

David Knapp: The Relyk of a seint

John.M.Hill, Belief and Truth: Canterbury Narratives: To cognize feelingly, Chaucerian Relief

The poetics of Reverence and Delight

Linda K Davidson, David Martin Gitlitz Pilgrimage: from Ganges to Graceland: an encyclopaedia, VOL 1.

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