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Horse And Rider Archetypes In Canterbury Tales English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1076 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Several works have brought about various The Canterbury Tales’ aspects. However, only a few of these works have recognized and given credit to the horses which are one of the characters mentioned by Chaucer. The aim of this essay is to try to bring out the significance of these characters which often go unnoticed thereby remaining neglected. The realization of these characters assists in filling an important fissure in the comprehending as well as appreciating the great work of Chaucer. The main purpose of this essay is to illustrate that Chaucer made the choice of mentioning pilgrim’s horses not only for the sake of aesthetic detail but for figurative alongside actual narrative purposes as well. The horses bring out more information concerning the pilgrims dressing manners in addition to physical features. As the horses act as an indication of the pilgrim’s social condition, they in addition give a hint on the moral character of a certain character. Even though the appearance of horses in the whole of The Canterbury Tales is minimal; they make a provision for one to draw an insight on the Chaucer’s vivid menagerie.

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In the Canterbury Tales; Chaucer has made reference to the horse for a number of times. In an approximation he has actually mentioned them for more than hundred and fifty times. Particularly, these solid references are mostly either proverbial terminologies or images which give reflections on the horse’s common notions thus giving an illustration of the relationship between characters in respect to their animal qualities, passions alongside stately status. It comes as no surprise to have Chaucer’s travelers mounted as pilgrims usually used the horses during pilgrimages. Nevertheless, Chaucer oddly makes a specification of eight pilgrim mounts, that is; Bath’s wife took her ride on an ambler, the Plowman rode a mare, and the palfrey was for the Monk while the reeve rode a stot. Though Chaucer maintains that the horses are simply normal animals helpful to man, he could not have given such a detailed description if that was the only reason he used them. Most likely, Chaucer used the horse archetypes so as to make an illustration; though subtly, of the pilgrim’s rank within the society alongside the individual’s real moral character. For example, Chaucer allocates the mare to the Plowman which is a low class mount meant only for the most poor people in society. However, as the Plowman meekly acknowledges his personal social status, he rides the mare happily and thereby embodies a morality level of high standards because he never pretends to be what he is actually not.

As a careful craftsman, Chaucer seems to possess a particular use for each detail, together with the pilgrims’ horses’ description. People such as Beryl Rowland have alleged that the mount mostly gave reflection of a rider’s disposition. Actually, the horse type allocated to every pilgrim tends to give a hint on various character traits. Seventeen pilgrims have in a certain time been defined relative to their individual horses; some of them in just one or two lines while others such as the Monk alongside the Canon in substantial detail. On top of the overall prologue, Chaucer has also mentioned horses within a number of the individual tales themselves, with the Reeve’s Tale having the greatest number of horses mention. For instance, Bayard, a slack horse, has been used within Reeve’s Tale to give a depiction of the clerks’ as well as the miller’s status, nature, freedom and their sexual desires.

Amongst the core Canterbury Tales attractions is Chaucer’s capability to bring out his characters uniquely as well as universally (Chaucer 109). Even though each pilgrim turns out as a unique stranger, he or she possesses a great deal of appeal to the audience as within every pilgrim lay specific fundamental human aspects. These human aspects seem to reveal Chaucer’s lively characters’ cast together, although what remains more appealing is their peculiarity and oddness:

By the means of individual characterization, Chaucer develops a human, all man’s image. Certain mount types have been used to illustrate the pilgrim’s nature whereas character’s equestrian habits bring out, mostly more effectively, the inner nature of the pilgrims. Chaucer definitely introduces characters’ oblique moral judgement on the basis of their individual riding habits. For instance, Chaucer portrays the Squire as a young, passionate man who is “Cuteis…., lowly, and Servyable” ( Chaucer 99). Which fits the “Wel koude……….sitte on hors and faire ryde” line (94). By stating that it would have been not understandable to have the handsome, worthy honorable Knight’s son ride clumsily on his steed, Chaucer brings out Squire’s equestrian abilities. In accordance to “the social conventions of a young man of his class” Chaucer’s Squire assimilates the archetype as all squires were considered as “proficient in horsemanship”. Chaucer applies further rider archetypes to the Clerk as well as Merchant. The Merchant is shown as one who talks “his resons…….ful solemnly” (Chaucer 274) as well as utilizes “wel his bisette” (279) rightfully rides “hye on [his] horse” (Chaucer 271). Similarly the reserved clerk, rides “coy and stille as doth a mayde……new espoused” (1-2) fittingly puts across how pilgrim’s moral alongside personal nature is reflected by their riding ability.

Chaucer initially conducts an examination of the Knight together with his son; Squire who are his most noble plus aristocratic characters before describing the pilgrims in detail which assists in the better understanding of the horse’s effect in the medieval society status. Chaucer’s Knight appropriately takes after the Knight’s archetype as just like most of the other knights, fights for aristocracy membership. “Ful worthy was he in his lordes were” (Chaucer 47). In overall, certain pilgrim’s mounts contribute to the tales realism in addition to subtle and thereby Chaucer actually had a purpose by using them.

Work Cited

Chaucer Geoffrey. (1775). Canterbury Tales. London, U.K: Mews-gate press


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