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Submitted By acarrier123
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Chaucer: the Master of Detail
Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales around the end of the 14th century. His story was meant to be told only by himself to the people in the court however, Chaucer was never able to complete his story. Even though, the Canterbury Tales was never completed; his tale continues to live on still today. Chaucer was able to use even the smallest details to help make his characters come to life. “No detail was too small for him to observe, and from it he could frequently draw, or suggest, conclusions which would have escaped many”(Bennett).Chaucer is considered the master of details and through the descriptions of the Monk, Pardoner and the Reeve, he shows how small details are what helps makes a character come to life.
Based on the description and actions of the Pardoner, it is evident that Chaucer uses every detail to his advantage. The Pardoner is described as an older man with long yellowish hair in locks that dangled down his shoulders. “He had bulging eyeballs like a hare. / He’d sewed a holy relic on his cap; / His wallet lay before him on his lap” (690-692). Chaucer sums up the Pardoner in these three lines; he has unique and strange characteristics shown by his description of the face and hair. The relic cap and the wallet shows how while he may be a religious man, he is corrupt and is in this only for the money. Chancer also uses irony when describing the Pardoner in order to show how the Pardoner is corrupt. The Pardoner preaches greed is the root of all evil, but in reality he is the greediest of all the pilgrims. “For will he knew that when that song was sung. / He’d have to preach and tune his honey-tongue/ And (well he could) win silver from the crowd. / That’s why he sung so merrily and loud” (717-720). Chaucer’s details about the Pardoner’s profession show how he is corrupt and only a preacher in order to make money through his followers. Chaucer’s attention to detail gives the audience a greater insight into the irony and sinfulness of the Pardoner.
When most people think of a Monk, they think a religious person who spends his days praying in a chapel. Chaucer’s description of the monk however, portrays a whole different personality. “And took the modern world’s more spacious way./ He did not rule that text at a plucked hen/ Which says that hunters are not holy men” (174-176).The Monk is described as a hunter who spends his days on his horse hunting in the woods. Chaucer writes these lines to show how on the surface he looks like any other monk but when looking a little farther it is clear that he is different than the rest of the holy men. Chaucer describes the Monk as a bald, heavier man which is stereotypical of monks but what proves his monk is different is Chaucer’s description of the Monk’s eyes. His prominent eyeballs never seemed to settle” (199). His eyes are always wondering just like a hunter’s eyes would while hunting. Chaucer proves that no detail is too small by describing to his audience how while he is a monk he is really a hunter at heart which is shown through the