What Is Chaucer Humor?


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Uzair Ahmed answered
Chaucer is to be read at three different levels simultaneously: Chaucer, the poet, Chaucer, the moralist and Chaucer, the humorist. All of the above mentioned aspects of Chaucer's poetry are intermingled with each other and you cannot draw a clear line of demarcation among them.  As far as Chaucer's humor is concerned, it is more of satire than humor. His ironical remarks about various characters make his tales and prologue something worthy to be read.    His ironical and sarcastic approach towards different characters, especially the ecclesiastical figures, is the real source of humor in his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. For example, when he describes to us the character of the Prioress, it is only his wit through which we can see flaws in her character. According to the poet, she is so loving that if a rat dies, she feels sad about it and cannot hold her tears back.    This remark apparently seems to be a compliment, but if we analyze it in depth, we can see that the time in which Chaucer wrote was badly hit by Black Death i.e. Plague, which is spread because of rats. In this way, the poet tells us of her indifferent behavior towards human beings.

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