The Canterbury Tales Essay

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In the following essay, David examines various interpretations of the old man in "The Pardoner's Tale."

Probably the main trend in contemporary Chaucer criticism is to look for a symbolic level of meaning in a poet whom most of us were taught to regard as a supremely realistic recorder of medieval life. Of course, realism and symbolism are not necessarily antithetical modes of expression, and a lot of misunderstanding will be avoided if we recognize that the choice is not one of either-or, a realistic Chaucer or an allegorical one. It is rather that we are beginning to see another dimension in Chaucer, something that should not surprise us in a great poet. It goes without saying that symbolic interpretation is subject to abuse by the ingenious critic who can persuade himself and others to see the Emperor's clothes. Nevertheless, it can hardly be denied that we are...

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This section contains 3,428 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Canterbury Tales Study Guide
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The Canterbury Tales from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.