Throughout Geoffrey Chaucers General Prologue

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Throughout Geoffrey Chaucer’s “General Prologue” to Canterbury Tales, there are characters that he seems to admire greatly, such as the Knight and others that he makes a mockery of, the Prioress. Chaucer uses different methods and descriptions to characterize each character within the “General Prologue.” Accompanying the methods of characterization, Chaucer also assigns gender specific stereotypes. Upon deeper character analysis of the Prioress and the Knight, one is able to decipher that Chaucer used demeaning qualities to describe female characters and more noble qualities for the male characters. The Prioress’s pretentiousness is demonstrated in her attempt to imitate refinement. Chaucer is quick to point out her attempts as superficial. Her actions are an indication of her shallowness. Chaucer uses her knowledge and use of the French language as an example of her shallowness. The narrator says, “And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetishly, / After the scole of Stratford at the Bowe- / For Frenssh of Paris was to hire unknowe” (ll.124-126). The Prioress is flaunting her education and expertise by using French when address the other pilgrims. Chaucer says that “Paris” French is unknown to her and that would indicate that she learned her French from books and teachers, rather than time spent in Paris. The Prioress would like the other travelers to think she is worldly and sophisticated. Instead, her pretentious effort to put on airs regarding her worldly experiences is just Chaucer’s attempt to degrade the female character by describing her as shallow. Chaucer uses the example of the Prioress’s table manners as another method of characterizing the female with unfavorable qualities. The narrator says that “At mete wel ytaught was she withalle: / She leet no morsel from hir lippes falle, / Ne wette hir fingers in hir sauce deepe; / wel coude she carye a morsel,
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