It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.



It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

Never stop learning because life never stop Teaching

Never stop learning because life never stop Teaching

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ode to Melancholy

Ode to Melancholy
Stanza I
The first stanza tells what not to do: The sufferer should not “go to Lethe,” or forget their sadness (Lethe is the river of forgetfulness in Greek mythology); should not commit suicide

(nightshade, “the ruby grape of Prosperpine,” is a poison; Prosperpine is the mythological queen of the underworld); and should not become obsessed with objects of death and misery

(the beetle, the death-moth, and the owl). For, the speaker says, that will make the anguish of the soul drowsy, and the sufferer should do everything he can to remain aware of and

alert to the depths of his suffering.
No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
·          Lethe: river in the underworld Hades in which souls about to be reborn bathed to forget the past; hence, river of forgetfulness.
·         wolf's-bane: poison. This name is the direct translation from the Greek for this plant. Also by choosing to use this name for the plant instead of one of its other names Keats sends

the message that the plant is poisonous without requiring the reader to research the properties of the plant.
·         Lethe = River of Forgetfulness (Greek mythology)
Wolf's bane = a poisonous plant (Aconitum lycoctonum)
Nightshade = another poisonous plant (Belladonna atropina)
Proserpine = Queen of the Underworld
Yew berries = another poison.

Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;

·          nightshade: poison.
·         Proserpine: the queen of the underworld. Prosperpine was kidnapped by Pluto and taken to Hades, his kingdom. Her mother Demeter, the goddess of fertility and grain, grieved

for her loss and the earth became sterile. Proserpine was returned to her mother for six months each year when Demester's joy is reflected in fertility and crops. Proserpine's story, with

its connection to the change of the seasons, is appropriate for this poem.

Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
The moth and the butterfly are images of Psyche, the soul. The use of “death-moth” ties into “mournful Psyche.” It also represents life and death since the living moth becomes

identified as death. The owl is also a symbol “of darkness and death” (Cooper 124). However, as a bird it represents the soul (Cooper 20). “Shade” is also a soul image and a death

image; the word often refers to specters, souls that wander due to unfinished business. Keats pairs these images of soul and death, but he says not to allow them to represent the soul,

“For shade to shade will come too drowsily” (l. 10). There is no need to hurry death because of depression. Death will come in its own time.

·          yew-berries: symbol of mourning. The yew is traditionally associated with mourning.
·          rosary: prayer beads.
·          Line 6, beetle: The Egyptians regarded the beetle as sacred; as a symbol of resurrection, a jewel-beetle or scarab was placed in tombs.
·          death-moth: the death's head moth, so called because its markings resemble a human skull.
·         Line 7, Psyche: in Greek, the soul or mind as well as butterfly (used as its emblem).
·         Line 8, mysteries: secret rites.
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
·          Just like death and the seasons “the melancholy fit shall fall” (l. 11) and is part of a natural cycle (Baker). The fit builds up, unnoticed then comes “Sudden from heaven like a

weeping cloud,” (l. 12). This is another image full of contradictions.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
·          Just like death and the seasons “the melancholy fit shall fall” (l. 11) and is part of a natural cycle (Baker). The fit builds up, unnoticed then comes “Sudden from heaven like a

weeping cloud,” (l. 12). This is another image full of contradictions.
·          The possible intensity, unpredictability, and inescapableness of melancholy is suggested by "fit." Think of your associations with this word.

That fosters (develops)  the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
·          The rain cloud “fosters” these flowers by helping them grow. However, while it is raining the flowers hang their heads down as if depressed or mourning. Even though the cloud

may hide the growth, this melancholy that causes people to be “droop-headed” is actually helping them grow. These lines also bring the idea of vision into the poem. The cloud obscures

vision. One literally cannot see the green hill through the cloud. However, this shows how when the cloud of melancholy hits one, they will be unable to see the beauty behind the

cloud. Instead they see the “April shroud.” This phrase draws the reader back to the first stanza with its image of life and death. April is the beginning of spring. It is a month of

regeneration and fertility celebrations. Keats identifies it with a shroud. Keats then says, when one can only see the “April shroud” they should
“glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
·          Lines 1-4 describe the physical circumstances literally and the emotional circumstances figuratively. The clouds are "weeping," an appropriate action for melancholy. But is it

surprising, even startling perhaps, to find that these weeping clouds (a negative image) "foster" (or nurture) the flower? Doesn't the reference to flowers call up positive images?

However, the flowers are"droop-headed," a phrase having a double application. (1) On a literal level, the rain has caused them to droop. (2) On a figurative level, "droop-headed"

connotes sadness, grief. The flowers are more specifically described in lines 5 and 7. The rain temporarily hides the view or hill (remember all these nature images are descriptions of

melancholy); however the hill is green, connoting fertility, lushness, beauty, aliveness, and it retains these qualities whether we can see them at a particular moment or not. The rain

which cuts visibility is called a "shroud," an obvious death reference, but the month is April, a time when nature renews itself, comes alive after winter's barrenness and harshness. Is

there a suggestion that melancholy is or may be fruitful?

Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
·          When one can only see their melancholy then they should surfeit on it to get to the beauty beyond. They should give into the depression until they get sick of it. This will enable

them to grow past it and to see the fertile “green hill.” However, if Melancholy becomes angry that one is no longer solely occupied by her, then take her in and let her loose within.

Keats is saying once again to feed on melancholy. He is suggesting a cyclical pattern of melancholy and joy. He is also suggesting a sort of beauty within Melancholy. The “green hill” is

behind the shroud; this signifies that once past the melancholy fit it is beautiful. The “peerless eyes” may also refer to the beauty of melancholy that Keats seems to be getting at. It

could also refer back to the idea of vision and the idea that one cannot peer through melancholy.

Each image Keats chooses to go with “glut they sorrow” contains both symbols of life and death. A rose is a beautiful and complex image. According to Cooper it can symbolize both life

and death; “As the flower of the feminine deities it is love, life, creation, fertility, beauty and also virginity. The evanescence of the rose represents death, mortality and sorrow; its

thorns signify pain” (Cooper 141). To further this idea he pairs the rose with the word morning, which has a double meaning due to the similarity to mourning. Morning is associated with

dawn and rebirth, but the sound similarity to mourning associates it with death. The rainbow is a symbol of “Transfiguration; […] the bridge or boundary between this world and

Paradise” (Cooper 136). The rainbow is a bridge between life and death. According to Hermione de Almeida, the “globed peonies” are another poisonous plant. But the peony is a

healing symbol (Cooper 128).

With this idea of finding life and death within the same image Keats turns to the idea of finding Melancholy with Beauty, Joy, and Pleasure.
·          The rest of the stanza advises what to do in these circumstances: enjoy as fully as possible the beauties of this world and thereby welcome melancholy. To "glut" sorrow is to

gorge or to experience to the fullest. The rose is beautiful, but as a "morning" rose it lasts a short time, i.e., the experience is transitory. Similarly the rainbow produced by the wave is

beautiful and shortlived (think about how long a wave lasts) Is it relevant that waves keep coming? The beauty of the peonies ("globed" describes their round shape) is "wealth"; is

"wealth" a positive or a negative value here?
·           The last four lines turn from nature to people. The imagery of wealth (her anger is "rich") and eating intently ("feed deep") tie the natural and the human worlds and the two

divisions of the stanza together. The words "glut," "feed deep," and "Emprison" imply passionate involvement in experience; also the eating imagery suggests that melancholy is

incorporated into, becomes part of and nourishes the individual. The food imagery is continued in stanza III. The lover, while the object of her angry raving, also enjoys her beauty

("peerless eyes").
·          In the second stanza, the speaker tells the sufferer what to do in place of the things he forbade in the first stanza. When afflicted with “the melancholy fit,” the sufferer should

instead overwhelm his sorrow with natural beauty, glutting it on the morning rose, “on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,” or in the eyes of his beloved.

She dwells with Beauty -- Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;
Ay, in the very temple of delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
·           It is important to recognize that "She" refers both to the beloved of stanza II and to melancholy. Lines 1-3 explain the basis for the advice of stanza II; beauty dies, joy is brief

(while we are experiencing joy, it is saying goodbye to us), and pleasure is painful ("aching pleasure" is a characteristic Keatsian oxymoron). Line 4 offers a specific example of the

abstractions of lines 1-3; as the bee sips nectar (a pleasurable activity), the nectar turns to poison. Having shown the inextricably mixed nature of life, Keats moves on to talk about

melancholy explicitly.
·          Where can melancholy be found? As has been implied, it is found in pleasure, in delight. Melancholy is "Veil'd" because it is hidden from us during pleasure, which is generally

what we are aware of and are absorbed in. However there are those who see melancholy-in-delight. They live intensely, vigorously; the language reflects their exuberance and power,

"strenuous" and "burst." Their sensitivity to life is of the highest quality, "palate fine."
·          In the end of this poem, we see the reward of the "wakeful anguish of the soul" of stanza I. The possessor of the wakeful soul shall taste melancholy's sadness (note the

synaesthesia of tasting a feeling). The change of tense, from present pleasure to future melancholy, expresses their relationship--one is part of and inevitably follows the other. Keats

concludes that the wakeful soul will be the "trophy" or prize gained or won from melancholy. Trophy is described as "cloudy," which has negative overtones. Does this negative touch

suggest any ambivalence on the poet's part? or is it the an absolute statement of the inextricably mixed nature of pleasure and melancholy?
·          Another way of asking this question: is Keats's affirming, without any qualifications, doubt, or hesitation, the inseparable nature of opposites in life?
·          In the third stanza, the speaker explains these injunctions, saying that pleasure and pain are inextricably linked: Beauty must die, joy is fleeting, and the flower of pleasure is

forever “turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips.” The speaker says that the shrine of melancholy is inside the “temple of Delight,” but that it is only visible if one can overwhelm

oneself with joy until it reveals its center of sadness, by “burst[ing] Joy’s grape against his palate fine.” The man who can do this shall “taste the sadness” of melancholy’s might and “be

among her cloudy trophies hung.”
“Ode on Melancholy,” the shortest of Keats’s odes, is written in a very regular form that matches its logical, argumentative thematic structure. Each stanza is ten lines long and metered

in a relatively precise iambic pentameter. The first two stanzas, offering advice to the sufferer, follow the same rhyme scheme, ABABCDECDE; the third, which explains the advice,

varies the ending slightly, following a scheme of ABABCDEDCE, so that the rhymes of the eighth and ninth lines are reversed in order from the previous two stanzas. As in some other

odes (especially “Autumn” and “Grecian Urn”), the two-part rhyme scheme of each stanza (one group of AB rhymes, one of CDE rhymes) creates the sense of a two-part thematic

structure as well, in which the first four lines of each stanza define the stanza’s subject, and the latter six develop it. (This is true especially of the second two stanzas.)
If the “Ode to Psyche” is different from the other odes primarily because of its form, the “Ode on Melancholy” is different primarily because of its style. The only ode not to be written

in the first person, “Melancholy” finds the speaker admonishing or advising sufferers of melancholy in the imperative mode; presumably his advice is the result of his own hard-won

experience. In many ways, “Melancholy” seeks to synthesize the language of all the previous odes—the Greek mythology of “Indolence” and “Urn,” the beautiful descriptions of nature in

“Psyche” and “Nightingale,” the passion of “Nightingale,” and the philosophy of “Urn,” all find expression in its three stanzas—but “Melancholy” is more than simply an amalgam of the

previous poems. In it, the speaker at last explores the nature of transience and the connection of pleasure and pain in a way that lets him move beyond the insufficient aesthetic

understanding of “Urn” and achieve the deeper understanding of “To Autumn.”
For the first time in the odes, the speaker in “Melancholy” urges action rather than passive contemplation. Rejecting both the eagerly embraced drowsiness of “Indolence” and the

rapturous “drowsy numbness” of “Nightingale,” the speaker declares that he must remain alert and open to “wakeful anguish,” and rather than flee from sadness, he will instead glut it on

the pleasures of beauty. Instead of numbing himself to the knowledge that his mistress will grow old and die (that “Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,” as he said in “Nightingale”), he

uses that knowledge to feel her beauty even more acutely. Because she dwells with “beauty that must die,” he will “feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.”
In the third stanza, the speaker offers his most convincing synthesis of melancholy and joy, in a way that takes in the tragic mortality of life but lets him remain connected to his own

experience. It is precisely the fact that joy will come to an end that makes the experience of joy such a ravishing one; the fact that beauty dies makes the experience of beauty sharper

and more thrilling. The key, he writes, is to see the kernel of sadness that lies at the heart of all pleasure—to “burst joy’s grape” and gain admission to the inner temple of melancholy.

Though the “Ode on Melancholy” is not explicitly about art, it is clear that this synthetic understanding of joy and suffering is what has been missing from the speaker’s earlier attempts

to experience art.
“Ode on Melancholy” originally began with a stanza Keats later crossed out, which described a questing hero in a grotesque mythological ship sailing into the underworld in search of the

goddess Melancholy. Though Keats removed this stanza from his poem (the resulting work is subtler and less overwrought), the story’s questing hero still provides perhaps the best

framework in which to read this poem. The speaker has fully rejected his earlier indolence and set out to engage actively with the ideas and themes that preoccupy him, but his action

in this poem is still fantastical, imaginative, and strenuous. He can only find what he seeks in mythical regions and imaginary temples in the sky; he has not yet learned how to find it in

his own immediate surroundings. That understanding and the final presentation of the odes’ deepest themes will occur in “To Autumn.”

Write an essay on the Age of Sensibility.

Write an essay on the Age of Sensibility.

In the 18th century, an emotional sensitiveness found an expression in literature and gradually merged into the larger and deeper imaginative life of the Romantic Revival.
It was Mathew Arnold who summed up the 18th century in English Literature as 'the age of prose and reason, our excellent and indispensable 18th century. The 18th century literature was

the product of reason and intelligence playing upon the surface of life. It was commonly critical didactic and satirical. It produced poetry of argument and criticism of politics and

personalities, and was couched in the heroic couplet which in the long run was bound to grow monotonous. As for the general social tone of the age "manners were coarse, politics

scandalously corrupt, and the general tone of society brutal." But we must not think that the 18th century was without excellence and values of its own. In the words of W.J. Long, "The

literature of the reign of Queen Anne was the better mind of England when it had recognized itself through good sense and moderation of temper from the Puritan excess and from wings

to soar; but it was something to have attained to a sober way of regarding human life and to the provisional resting place of a philosophical and theological compromise."
The general temper of the age may be summed up in a phrase. "The Age of Reason." It was, in reality, an age opposed to individual initiative in the arts, science and social progress. It

was a new frivolous age for all well-to-do, but it was a correct and moral frivolity. It was a period of false appearances, of assured self interest, and of established rules and regulations

for custom and form. In this age much importance was attached to reason in modes of thinking and expressing-reason may be interpreted as good sense, rationalism, intellect, wit or just

dry logic-ism, but it was definitely opposed to excessive emotionalism, sentimentalism extravagance, eccentricity and even imagination.

Critical Appreciation of 'The Solitary Reaper' By Wordsworth

Critical Appreciation of 'The Solitary Reaper' By Wordsworth

Solitary Reaper is one of the finest Lyrical Ballads composed by Wordsworth. As Wordsworth always longed for human beauty that is surrounded by some natural objects, here in the

poem he paints a girl singing spontaneously in Gaelic, a Celtic language, spoken in the Highlands of Scotland.
The Poem has a message that poetry should not rely on artificial diction for it's effort. Rather It should be written with plain language and simple form so that each class can appreciate

it's objective. The poem is a beauty in this regard. He wrote this poem in a rustic setting as real music can be sought in a pure natural setting.
A maiden singing song while reaping with full-throat-ed-ease attracts poet's attention. Her song is melodious enough to make the Nature sing with her. As the poet writes.........
     "O listen! for the vale profound
       Is overflowing with the sound."
The poet goes on saying that nothing can be compared to the girl's song. The birds like Nightingale or Cuckoo are not as praiseworthy as the girl is. But the Poet does not even know

what meaning does the song convey. Is it about the sorrows of the past or about the sorrows of day to day life of a man or the song explains about the upcoming sorrows?
The poet ignores the theme but likes the spontaneity of the song and thinks the song should not have any ending. The poet listens to the song motionless and still and mounted up the hill.

At last he returns t the theme of human feelings which are capable of remembering all the soothing effects to their hearts. He says...........
      "Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang
        As if her song could have no ending"
The Solitary Reaper was written November 5, 1805 and was published in 1807. The poem is divided into four octaves (32 lines total) with a rhyming scheme either abcbddee or

ababccdd. Most of the lines are in iambic tetrameter. 

Chaucer: Art of Characterization

Chaucer: Art of Characterization

In the universe of English poetry, Chaucer flourishes the fantastic colours of his words and paints different characters of his age with minute observation. Indeed, he is a great painter

who paints not with colours but with words. Undoubtedly, he has:

“The Seeing Eye, the retentive memory, the judgment to select and the ability to expound.”

His keen analysis of the minutest detail of his characters, their dresses, looks and manners enable him to present his characters lifelike and not mere bloodless abstractions.

His poetical piece, “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” is a real picture gallery in which thirty portraits are hanging on the wall with all of their details and peculiarities. Rather it is a

grand procession with all the life and movement, the colour and sound. Indeed,

“His characters represent English society, morally and socially, in the real and recognizable types”.

And still more representative of humanity in general. So, the characters in Chaucer's “The Prologue” are for all ages and for all lands.

Chaucer is the first great painter of character in English literature. In fact, next to Shakespeare he is the greatest in this field. In “The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales” the thirty

portraits traced by Chaucer give us an excellent idea of the society at that time. Except for royalty and aristocracy, on one hand and the robbers or out casts on the other, he has

painted in brief practically the whole English nation.

The thirty pilgrims, including the host, belong to the most varied professions. The Knight and the Squire presents the warlike element of the society. The learned and liberal vocations

are signified by the Man of Law, the Doctor, the Oxford Clerk and the Poet himself. The Merchant and the Shipman stand for the higher commercial community while the Wife of Bath,

an expert Cloth maker represents the traders and manufacturers. Agriculture is represented by the Ploughman, the Miller and the Franklin. The upper servants like Manciple and the Reeve

and the lower servant like Yeoman and the Cook represent the town and Country between them. The Monk from his monastery, the Prioress from her convent, her attendant priests, the

village Parson, the roaming Friar, the Pardoner and the Summoner sufficiently cover the casual categories of the religious order in those days.

To preserve the distinctions among these typical characters, Chaucer has indicated the differences in their clothes, manner of speech, habits and tendencies representing the common

traits and the average characteristics of each profession. These personages, therefore, are not mere phantasms of the brain but real human beings.

These characters represent various types of contemporary society. They are no longer mere dummies or types but owing to their various peculiarities, their arguments and agreement and

their likes and dislikes we recognize them as real living beings, true to the mould in which all human nature is cast.

His world is almost freak-free and his characters are perfectly lifelike. Some of them are so modern that they seem to be living today. The old Knight is an example of the chivalrous

character which is found in every generation. The Squire is just the typical man of any day.

“He was as fresshe as is the monthe of May”

The Merchant has all the vanity which comes from the growing of wealth, while the Man of Law like lawyers of all times, is pilling up fees and buying land. We recognize in him the

typical lawyer of our own day:

“Nowhere so bisy a man as he ther was”
And yet he seemed bisier than he was.

There are characters like the Prioress, the Monk, the Franklin, the Reeve, the Summoner, the Pardoner, and the Wife of Bath whom we do not identify at first. But none of them is

really extinct. They have changed their name and profession but their chief part is an element of humanity. That is why when we accompany the Pilgrims on their way we feel quite at

home and have no feeling of being among aliens.

Chaucer’s art of characterization is superb. He looks at his characters objectively and delineates each of the men and women sharply and caressingly. His impression of casualness,

economy, significance and variety of every detail are examples of that supreme art which conceals art.

In fact, there is a different method of almost every pilgrim. He varies his presentation from the full length portrait to the thumb-nail sketch, but even in the brief sketches, Chaucer

conveys a strong sense of individuality and depth of portraiture.

Chaucer’s method of portraying characters is a scientific manner by differentiating them by means of their obvious distinctions. It was for the first time in European literature that a

writer proved himself clearly conscious of the relation between individuals and ideas. Moreover, Chaucer’s characters are consistent and instead of being static, they grow and develop

in the course of the tale, like living human beings. They give their opinions on the stories that have been told and these comments reveal their dominant thoughts, their feelings and the

objects of their interests.

Thus Chaucer is the master in the art of characterization.
Character List
The Pilgrims
The Narrator - The narrator makes it quite clear that he is also a character in his book. Although he is called Chaucer, we should be wary of accepting his words and opinions as Chaucer’s

own. In the General Prologue, the narrator presents himself as a gregarious and naïve character. Later on, the Host accuses him of being silent and sullen. Because the narrator writes

down his impressions of the pilgrims from memory, whom he does and does not like, and what he chooses and chooses not to remember about the characters, tells us as much about the

narrator’s own prejudices as it does about the characters themselves.
The Knight - The first pilgrim Chaucer describes in the General Prologue, and the teller of the first tale. The Knight represents the ideal of a medieval Christian man-at-arms. He has

participated in no less than fifteen of the great crusades of his era. Brave, experienced, and prudent, the narrator greatly admires him.

The Wife of Bath - Bath is an English town on the Avon River, not the name of this woman’s husband. Though she is a seamstress by occupation, she seems to be a professional wife. She

has been married five times and had many other affairs in her youth, making her well practiced in the art of love. She presents herself as someone who loves marriage and sex, but,

from what we see of her, she also takes pleasure in rich attire, talking, and arguing. She is deaf in one ear and has a gap between her front teeth, which was considered attractive in

Chaucer’s time. She has traveled on pilgrimages to Jerusalem three times and elsewhere in Europe as well.
The Pardoner - Pardoners granted papal indulgences—reprieves from penance in exchange for charitable donations to the Church. Many pardoners, including this one, collected profits for

themselves. In fact, Chaucer’s Pardoner excels in fraud, carrying a bag full of fake relics—for example, he claims to have the veil of the Virgin Mary. The Pardoner has long, greasy,

yellow hair and is beardless. These characteristics were associated with shiftiness and gender ambiguity in Chaucer’s time. The Pardoner also has a gift for singing and preaching

whenever he finds himself inside a church.
The Miller - Stout and brawny, the Miller has a wart on his nose and a big mouth, both literally and figuratively. He threatens the Host’s notion of propriety when he drunkenly insists on

telling the second tale. Indeed, the Miller seems to enjoy overturning all conventions: he ruins the Host’s carefully planned storytelling order; he rips doors off hinges; and he tells a tale

that is somewhat blasphemous, ridiculing religious clerks, scholarly clerks, carpenters, and women.
The Prioress -Described as modest and quiet, this Prioress (a nun who is head of her convent) aspires to have exquisite taste. Her table manners are dainty, she knows French (though not

the French of the court), she dresses well, and she is charitable and compassionate.
The Monk - Most monks of the Middle Ages lived in monasteries according to the Rule of Saint Benedict, which demanded that they devote their lives to “work and prayer.” This Monk

cares little for the Rule; his devotion is to hunting and eating. He is large, loud, and well clad in hunting boots and furs.
The Friar - Roaming priests with no ties to a monastery, friars were a great object of criticism in Chaucer’s time. Always ready to befriend young women or rich men who might need his

services, the friar actively administers the sacraments in his town, especially those of marriage and confession. However, Chaucer’s worldly Friar has taken to accepting bribes.
The Summoner - The Summoner brings persons accused of violating Church law to ecclesiastical court. This Summoner is a lecherous man whose face is scarred by leprosy. He gets drunk

frequently, is irritable, and is not particularly qualified for his position. He spouts the few words of Latin he knows in an attempt to sound educated.
The Host - The leader of the group, the Host is large, loud, and merry, although he possesses a quick temper. He mediates among the pilgrims and facilitates the flow of the tales. His

title of “host” may be a pun, suggesting both an innkeeper and the Eucharist, or Holy Host.
The Parson - The only devout churchman in the company, the Parson lives in poverty, but is rich in holy thoughts and deeds. The pastor of a sizable town, he preaches the Gospel and

makes sure to practice what he preaches. He is everything that the Monk, the Friar, and the Pardoner are not.
The Squire - The Knight’s son and apprentice. The Squire is curly-haired, youthfully handsome, and loves dancing and courting.
The Clerk - The Clerk is a poor student of philosophy. Having spent his money on books and learning rather than on fine clothes, he is threadbare and wan. He speaks little, but when he

does, his words are wise and full of moral virtue.
The Man of Law - A successful lawyer commissioned by the king. He upholds justice in matters large and small and knows every statute of England’s law by heart.
The Manciple - A manciple was in charge of getting provisions for a college or court. Despite his lack of education, this Manciple is smarter than the thirty lawyers he feeds.
The Merchant -  The Merchant trades in furs and other cloths, mostly from Flanders. He is part of a powerful and wealthy class in Chaucer’s society.
The Shipman -  Brown-skinned from years of sailing, the Shipman has seen every bay and river in England, and exotic ports in Spain and Carthage as well. He is a bit of a rascal, known for

stealing wine while the ship’s captain sleeps.
The Physician - The Physician is one of the best in his profession, for he knows the cause of every malady and can cure most of them. Though the Physician keeps himself in perfect

physical health, the narrator calls into question the Physician’s spiritual health: he rarely consults the Bible and has an unhealthy love of financial gain.
The Franklin - The word “franklin” means “free man.” In Chaucer’s society, a franklin was neither a vassal serving a lord nor a member of the nobility. This particular franklin is a

connoisseur of food and wine, so much so that his table remains laid and ready for food all day.
The Reeve - A reeve was similar to a steward of a manor, and this reeve performs his job shrewdly—his lord never loses so much as a ram to the other employees, and the vassals under

his command are kept in line. However, he steals from his master.
The Plowman - The Plowman is the Parson’s brother and is equally good-hearted. A member of the peasant class, he pays his tithes to the Church and leads a good Christian life.
The Guildsmen - Listed together, the five Guildsmen appear as a unit. English guilds were a combination of labor unions and social fraternities: craftsmen of similar occupations joined

together to increase their bargaining power and live communally. All five Guildsmen are clad in the livery of their brotherhood.
The Cook - The Cook works for the Guildsmen. Chaucer gives little detail about him, although he mentions a crusty sore on the Cook’s leg.
The Yeoman- The servant who accompanies the Knight and the Squire. The narrator mentions that his dress and weapons suggest he may be a forester.
The Second Nun - The Second Nun is not described in the General Prologue, but she tells a saint’s life for her tale.
The Nun’s Priest - Like the Second Nun, the Nun’s Priest is not described in the General Prologue. His story of Chanticleer, however, is well crafted and suggests that he is a witty, self-

effacing preacher.
Characters from the Five Tales Analyzed
The Knight’s Tale
The Knight's tale is about two young knights that strive for Emily, who is the sister of queen Hippolyta who is married to duke Theseus, lord and governour of Athens. The story contains

many aspects of knighthood, including discussions on love, courtly manners, brotherhood and loyalty. Several fights and battles are fought and even foreign kings are brought in to

emphasize the epical meaning and shape of the last battle. Finally, death is the end of every worldly sore.
Theseus - A great conqueror and the duke of Athens in the Knight’s Tale. The most powerful ruler in the story, he is often called upon to make the final judgment, but he listens to others’

pleas for help.
Palamon -  Palamon is one of the two imprisoned Theban soldier heroes in the Knight’s Tale. Brave, strong, and sworn to everlasting friendship with his cousin Arcite, Palamon falls in

love with the fair maiden Emelye, which brings him into conflict with Arcite. Though he loses the tournament against Arcite, he gets Emelye in the end.
Arcite - The sworn brother to Palamon, Arcite, imprisoned with Palamon in the tower in the Knight’s Tale, falls equally head over heels in love with Emelye. He gets released from the

tower early and wins Emelye’s hand in a tournament, but then dies when a divinely fated earthquake causes his horse to throw him.
Emelye - Emelye is the sister to Hippolyta, Theseus’s domesticated Amazon queen in the Knight’s Tale. Fair-haired and glowing, we first see Emelye as Palamon does, through a window.

Although she is the object of both Palamon’s and Arcite’s desire, she would rather spend her life unmarried and childless. Nevertheless, when Arcite wins the tournament, she readily

pledges herself to him.
Egeus - Theseus’s father. Egeus gives Theseus the advice that helps him convince Palamon and Emelye to end their mourning of Arcite and get married.
The Miller’s Tale
Nicholas - In the Miller’s Tale, Nicholas is a poor astronomy student who boards with an elderly carpenter, John, and the carpenter’s too-young wife, Alisoun. Nicholas dupes John and

sleeps with Alisoun right under John’s nose, but Absolon, the foppish parish clerk, gets Nicholas in the end.
Alisoun -  Alisoun is the sexy young woman married to the carpenter in the Miller’s Tale. She is bright and sweet like a small bird, and dresses in a tantalizing style—her clothes are

embroidered inside and outside, and she laces her boots high. She willingly goes to bed with Nicholas, but she has only harsh words and obscenities for Absolon.
Absolon - The local parish clerk in the Miller’s Tale, Absolon is a little bit foolish and more than a little bit vain. He wears red stockings underneath his floor-length church gown, and his

leather shoes are decorated like the fanciful stained-glass windows in a cathedral. He curls his hair, uses breath fresheners, and fancies Alisoun.
John - The dim-witted carpenter to whom Alisoun is married and with whom Nicholas boards. John is jealous and possessive of his wife. He constantly berates Nicholas for looking into

God’s “pryvetee,” but when Nicholas offers John the chance to share his knowledge, John quickly accepts. He gullibly believes Nicholas’s pronouncement that a second flood is coming,

which allows Nicholas to sleep with John’s wife.
The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
The First Three Husbands - The Wife of Bath says that her first three husbands were “good” because they were rich and old. She could order them around, use sex to get what she

wanted, and trick them into believing lies.
The Fourth Husband - The Wife of Bath says comparatively little about her fourth husband. She loved him, but he was a reveler who had a mistress. She had fun singing and dancing with

him, but tried her best to make him jealous. She fell in love with her fifth husband, Jankyn, while she was still married to her fourth.
Jankyn - The Wife of Bath’s fifth husband, Jankyn, was a twenty-year-old former student, with whom the Wife was madly in love. His stories of wicked wives frustrated her so much

that one night she ripped a page out of his book, only to receive a deafening smack on her ear in return.
The Knight - Arthur’s young knight rapes a maiden, and, to avoid the punishment of death, he is sent by the queen on a quest to learn about submission to women. Once he does so, and

shows that he has learned his lesson by letting his old ugly wife make a decision, she rewards him by becoming beautiful and submissive.
The Old Woman - The old woman supplies the young knight with the answer to his question, in exchange for his promise to do whatever she wants. When she tells him he must marry

her, the knight begrudgingly agrees, and when he allows her to choose whether she would like to be beautiful and unfaithful or ugly and faithful, she rewards him by becoming both

beautiful and faithful.
Arthur’s Queen - Arthur’s queen, presumably Guinevere, is interesting because she wields most of the power. When Arthur’s knight rapes a maiden, he turns the knight over to his queen

allows her to decide what to do with him.
The Pardoner’s Tale
The Three Rioters - These are the three protagonists of the Pardoner’s Tale. All three indulge in and represent the vices against which the Pardoner has railed in his Prologue: Gluttony,

Drunkeness, Gambling, and Swearing. These traits define the three and eventually lead to their downfall. The Rioters at first appear like personified vices, but it is their belief that a

personified concept—in this case, Death—is a real person that becomes the root cause of their undoing.
The Old Man - In the Pardoner’s Tale, the three Rioters encounter a very old man whose body is completely covered except for his face. Before the old man tells the Rioters where they

can find “Death,” one of the Rioters rashly demands why the old man is still alive. The old man answers that he is doomed to walk the earth for eternity. He has been interpreted as

Death itself, or as Cain, punished for fratricide by walking the earth forever; or as the Wandering Jew, a man who refused to let Christ rest at his house when Christ proceeded to his

crucifixion, and who was therefore doomed to roam the world, through the ages, never finding rest.
The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
Chanticleer - The heroic rooster of the Nun’s Priest’s Tale, Chanticleer has seven hen-wives and is the most handsome cock in the barnyard. One day, he has a prophetic dream of a fox

that will carry him away. Chanticleer is also a bit vain about his clear and accurate crowing voice, and he unwittingly allows a fox to flatter him out of his liberty.
Pertelote - Chanticleer’s favorite wife in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale. She is his equal in looks, manners, and talent. When Chanticleer dreams of the fox, he awakens her in the middle of the

night, begging for an interpretation, but Pertelote will have none of it, calling him foolish. When the fox takes him away, she mourns him in classical Greek fashion, burning herself and

The Fox - The orange fox, interpreted by some as an allegorical figure for the devil, catches Chanticleer the rooster through flattery. Eventually, Chanticleer outwits the fox by

encouraging him to boast of his deceit to his pursuers. When the fox opens his mouth, Chanticleer escapes.

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