The Satire and Humor In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Until Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Canterbury Tales, he was primarily know for being the writer of love poems, such as The Parliament of Fowls, narratives of doomed passion, and stories of women wronged by their lovers. These works are nothing short of being breath taking, but they do not posses the raw power that the Canterbury Tales do. This unfinished poem, which is about 17,000 lines, is one of the most brilliant works in all of literature. The poem introduces a group of pilgrims journeying from London to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Together, the pilgrims represent a large section of 14th-century English life. To help pass the time of the journey, the pilgrims decide to tell stories. These tales include a wide variety of medieval genres, from humorous fables to religious lectures. They vividly describe medieval attitudes and customs in such areas as love, marriage, and religion. Chaucer was a master storyteller, and his wit his shown throughout his work by the use of humor and satire, and it is most present in The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner’s Tale, and The Wife of Bath’s Tale.
Many people that the most popular par to of the Canterbury Tales it The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, which has long been admired for the lively, individualized portraits it offers. More recent criticism has reacted against this approach, claiming that the portraits are indicative of social humor and satire, “estates satire,” and insisting that they should not be read as individualized character portraits like those in a novel (Gittes 15). It is the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales that serves to establish firmly the framework for the entire story- collection:
the pilgrimage that turns into a tale-telling competition. Since The Prologue begins the story, it is only fit that it contains the most humor and satire.