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Critique on another students project - Essay Example

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The trio of literary texts chosen to define the canons of medieval literature establishes the claim that they are apt representatives of their genre. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales presents a curious blend of characters, connected by a common design of going on a pilgrimage…
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The trio of literary texts chosen to define the canons of medieval literature establishes the claim that they are apt representatives of their genre.Chaucer's Canterbury Tales presents a curious blend of characters, connected by a common design of going on a pilgrimage. The fact that the characters are as diverse as a prioress, to a knight to a miller to a parson, shows Chaucer not only trying to present a social history of his times, but also writing a critique of it. Chaucer presents the characters and their descriptions garbed in subtle irony, so as elucidate the machinations of a society where the church had become corrupt and moral ideals had degenerated. Thus, we have a Prioress who is a perfect exponent of table dining manners, a Monk who has amassed a huge fortune and leads an aristocratic life and a miller whose expertise lies in telling lascivious tales. Though many critics have pointed out the so-called anti-feminist presentation of Chaucer's characters, they are largely true of a country where moral ethics were dwindling, largely due to the coming of the Renaissance and also because the pseudo chivalry of love, honour and fame of the medieval times were beginning to loose ground. The Canterbury Tales are emblematic of a society that was under going a change: a society that had become decadent and was on the verge of a huge re-birth, to be brought about by the Renaissance.
If Canterbury Tales operates to be largely a social documentary of its times, John Lydgate's The Fall of Princes operates within the popular medieval genre of "advice to princes" literature. Deriving from French sources, Lydgate offers his readers the various conflicts experienced between the autocratic Church and the state authority. It not only anticipates the problems of the Divine Rights Policy, whereby a king ruled upon his subjects as the religiously chosen one, but also shows the element of corruption which had become synonymous to the medieval Churches. True, the text is of premier importance considering its contribution to the epistemology of narrative tragedy. However, what really makes it at par with Chaucer's work is the blend of witticism and irony which makes it so very typical of the medieval literature trying to break the chains of medieval morality and prudery.
Like Chaucer, Gower's Confessio Amantis is largely inspired by Guillaume De Lorris and Jean de Meun's Roman de la Rose. The fact that the text has a generous blend of Latin, makes it a recognizable element of a generation where Renaissance had begun to make a mark.
Confessio Amantis has a peculiar alliance with the genre of romantic poetry in the sense that Gower seemed to celebrate nature from a perspective of transcience and permanence: a trait that was so common in the Romantics's quest for mitigating the shadow between the desire and the spasm, between the thought and action. The text is paradoxically different and alike the tradition of medieval literature. If the element of theme, say the text's motif of the Seven Deadly Sins, is predominantly medieval, what makes it very different is the treatment. The fusion of Biblical allegories along with sexual innuendoes in the text is simply fantastic.
The fact that the trio of texts is apt representations of medieval English literature emanates from their socio-logical significance. All the three works show the rise of originality, as inspired by the coming of the Renaissance in England, the boldness of theme and the criteria of going against the so-called traditional canon. Thus, even if they deal with something as common as the permissiveness of courtly love, the writers make sure that their treatment of the theme ushers in an element of freshness.
Works Cited
Bakalian Shaw, Ellen. Aspects Of Love In John Gower's Confessio Amantis. New York & London: Routledge, 1993
Thompson, N.S. Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparitive Sudy of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996
Pearsall, Derek. John Lydgate. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970. Read More
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