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The Canterbury Tales Essay | Critical Essay #17

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Critical Essay #17

In the following essay, Woolf comments on Chaucer's satire in the "General Prologue."

Many people nowadays acquire an early and excessive familiarity with the "General Prologue" to the Canterbury Tales, which later blunts their sharpness of perception. Since the "Prologue" is read at school, necessarily out of its literaryhistorical context, its methods of satire seem to have an inevitability and rightness which preclude either surprise or analysis. This natural tendency to remain uncritically appreciative of the "Prologue" has been partly confirmed by various works of criticism, which, though admirable in many ways, effusively reiterate that "here is God's plenty": they thus awaken an enthusiastic response to the vitality and variety of the characterisation in the "Prologue," at the cost of making the exact manner and tone of Chaucer's satire quite indistinct. Despite the bulk of Chaucerian criticism, there is still need for a detailed and disciplined examination of...

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This section contains 3,254 words
(approx. 11 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Canterbury Tales Study Guide
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The Canterbury Tales from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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