What in the heck do you mean? Isn’t that a use of satire one might ask? Satire is saying one thing and meaning another. It is a perfect example of irony. Irony can be seen in our everyday lives and is greatly used throughout comedy and poetry. Especially in the old poetry. Satire can also be seen as a slightly different version of sarcasm depending on how it is used in context. There is a great deal of satire in any aspect of life if you choose to look hard enough. It is used mostly by women, once one does their research well enough.
Women like to use it when they are talking to their men and accusing them of something and they decide to try to lie and get out of it. It’s quite funny actually. There are things such as written satires. Satire is something that usually has a hidden meaning deep down under and it’s up to the audience or reader to inspect the writing in a deeper way and decide what the author is trying to get across. This occurs quite often in the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer. He is the father of the English language and he wanted to be set apart from all the other poets and writers of his time.
To accomplish this goal he decides to have his audience be the less fortunate people of France and speak in a language that they might be able to understand. He didn’t want to write just for the educated and the literate. He wanted the uneducated and the less literate to be able to read something with ease and not feel like they were being belittled as they read the text. Chaucer greatly accomplished this goal with the many great writings that the produced during his time. It’s actually a shame that he died before he could accomplish the very last writing that he ever did which was Chaucer’s tales.
They are tales from many different individuals that are participating on a journey called a pilgrimage. They vary in shape, size, color, gender, jobs, and many other characteristics. Chaucer’s use of satire is clearly displayed throughout the General Prologue, the Pardoner’s Tale, and the Wife of Bath such as when the Roman Catholic Church is corrupted to the extreme, the pardoner doesn’t practice what he preaches, and the Wife of Bath has been physically, verbally, and mentally abused in her relationships and marriages and she still remarries and decides to love again.
In the General Prologue, the Roman Catholic Church tries punishing people for sinning yet the leaders do just as much sinning, if not more. Throughout the General Prologue, the Catholic Church is displayed as a very hypocritical organization and that is the reason that people and members of the church are starting to lose faith. It’s also an explanation as to why the world was becoming more and more corrupted and why people were not happy in their daily lives. They struggled from day to day to be happy and survive. The Black Plague swept through and took many lives and it angered each of the people.
They never thought once that it could have been because of the corruption and hypocrisy within the church. The book of James in the Bible has a great statement about hypocrisy and greatly defines how the hypocrisy was affecting the rest of the people. It states “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works. ” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder. ” (Bible, James 2: 14-19) It is clearly stating that if you tell them to go off and do something yet you don’t follow what you’re telling them to do, how are they supposed to follow in ones footsteps and know what is right? You cannot lead a people just by words when your actions are displaying the opposite.
At the end, it states that you may believe there is one God but demons also believe the same thing so how are you any different. Both demons and the actions of the members of the corrupted church are similar in their ways and they both believe in one God so they are very much alike. God compares the hypocrites to demons and demons are bad and they possess people and make them do bad things and sin. Which is exactly what the corrupted church is convincing the members to do. It is a large use of satire by Chaucer.
In the Pardoner’s Tale, the Pardoner preaches against greed and gain yet his nly goal is to gain and he is extremely greedy. It has been stated that “greed is the root of all evil” and the Pardoner even preaches this in his sermon that he preaches each and every time and has down by memory. In the prologue that the Pardoner gives of himself, he states that “I preach, as you have heard me say before, And tell a hundred lying mockeries more. I take great pains, and stretching out my neck To east and west I crane about and peck Just like a pigeon sitting on a barn. My hands and tongue together spin the yarn And all my antics are a joy to see.
The curse of avarice and cupidity Is all my sermon, for it frees the pelf. Out come the pence, and specially for myself, For my exclusive purpose is to win And not at all to castigate their sin. Once dead what matter how their souls may fare? They can go blackberrying, for all I care! ” What the Pardoner is pretty much saying is that he preaches against greed and doing things for self gain, yet he turns around and does his preaching for greed and gain. He can make money off of the individuals that are brought to him so he can forgive them of their sins.
The Pardoner says that this whole thing is like a game to him and he doesn’t honestly care what happens to people’s souls after they die. He only wants to make money and benefit at the expense of other individuals. There is extreme satire in the preaching’s of the Pardoner. He doesn’t actually practice what he preaches and is causes his followers to have doubt within the church and it’s officials because they do the opposite of what they say. It all winds back to hypocrisy. The whole entire Chaucer’s Tales consist of hypocrisy in one way or another.
Each person is a hypocrite deep down, it just takes a while for it to be shown. The Apostle Paul states in the book of Romans that “An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.
For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you. ” (Paul, Romans) This verse fits the Pardoner to a perfect tee. He says that greed is the root of all evil, yet he specifically states that he is greedy and only wants to gain. This whole preaching thing is only a game to him and that is an extreme use of satire by Chaucer and the Pardoner. The Wife of Bath expresses satire when she complains of her husband’s abusing her and how she so hated it, yet she stays with them until they die, then she remarries.
She states that “Five husbands have I had at the church door; yes, it’s a fact that I have had so many, all worthy in their way, as good as any… Welcome the sixth, whenever he appears. I can’t keep continent for years and years. No sooner than one husband’s dead and gone some other Christian man shall take me on, for them, so says the Apostle, I am free to wed, o’ God’s name, where it pleases me. ” She sees nothing wrong with marrying any and every guy that comes her way and gives her some type of compliment.
The Wife of Bath tries to blame everything that goes wrong on her husband, even when she has been unfaithful to him she still turns it around on him and makes it look like his fault so he is the one apologizing. In “Woman Defamed and Woman Defended: An Anthology of Medieval Texts” it is quoted that “…the man is to blame rather than the woman when he allows himself to be distracted by her beauty. ” (Oxford) That is exactly what happens in the Wife of Bath because she always turns it around on her husbands.
When she dressed like a little harlot and went out when her husband asked her not to and she came home and he was angry and she once again turned it around on him. She complained because one of her husband’s hit her and made her go deaf in one ear, yet she loved him still and couldn’t part with him because of her love. She says that she had three bad husbands but she didn’t bother to look for someone who was any different when she was looking for her next husband. It’s a cruel form of satire.
Clearly, the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, the pardoner doesn’t practice what he preaches, and the Wife of Bath has been physically, verbally, and mentally abused in her relationships and marriages and she still remarries and decides to love again are all examples of Chaucer’s use of satire throughout the General Prologue, the Pardoner’s Tale, and the Wife of Bath. There was an attitude that was formed from the hypocrisy and satire of all these leaders in the church and they started having an attitude that they didn’t want to be a apart of the Roman Catholic church any longer.
Meadow and Kahoe stated that “The church is not for me; it’s too full of hypocrites. ” (Moberg) There is a large use of satire throughout all of Chaucer’s works, especially these three. The use of three is also a satire as well. Plato uses the magic number three in most of his theories as well. It is a universal number used. Torok, McMorris, and Lin state that “.. sarcasm is a harmful form of humor…” (Torok, McMorris, and Lin) This can be proven quite wrong by the works of Chaucer.