- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Irony in Canterbury Tales

This Essay Irony in Canterbury Tales and other 62,000+ term papers, college essay examples and free essays are available now on

Autor:   •  March 14, 2011  •  Essay  •  922 Words (4 Pages)  •  863 Views

Page 1 of 4

Irony is a form of speech in which the real meaning is concealed or contradicted by the words used. There are three tales that are fantastic demonstrations of irony. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”, “The Pardoner’s Tale”, and “The Nun Priest’s Tale” are the three. While each one is different, each uses irony to teach its characters a lesson.

“The Wife of Bath’s Tale” does not have as much irony in it as the other two tales do. The most major ironical difference is that of the nature of the knight’s crime. He begins so violently as he rapes the young maid. However, he soon begins to show his meek side. Secondly, as the knight feels relief and assurance about a truth he states he will soon experience, irony is also brought into play. Chaucer uses ignorance to get across his idea of irony. For example, he has the knight ignorant of the old hag’s request. As the story furthers itself and the knight is forced to marry the hag, it is ironic that he let’s her choose what she wants to be, because that is exactly the response she wanted. She therefore chooses to be a young, fair maiden who is loyal and trustworthy. The entire time, he thought he would forever be married to an old, ugly woman.

“The Pardoner’s Tale” has perhaps the most irony of all the tales in it. First, the entire story begins ironically when you realize who the narrator of the story is. The Pardoner is speaking out against many crimes; all of which he seems to be guilty of himself. He is a drunkard, sells fake jewelry, and will do anything to build up his riches. All the while, he’s preaching against drunkenness, blasphemy and avarice. In the beginning of the story, the three rioters promise to “live and die each for the other as if they were the other’s own brother born” in protection from Death [lines 375 вЂ" 376]. However, as they leave in search of Death, they soon find gold. This gold very quickly changes the hearts of the three rakes and creates division between them. Ironically, they have gone out to find Death because Death stabbed their friend; but they find вЂ?death’ themselves. Even more so ironic is how each dies. Upon finding the money, they decide to stay with it until it is dark and they can move it. The draw straws to see who will be sent out for food and wine; the youngest one is the lucky recipient of such a deed. When the youngest one goes out, the two others begin to plot against him. They want to kill him so that they will get his share of money. Likewise, the youngest one is planning to poison the wine of the two others when he returns. When he comes back to the place that they are staying, he is in fact attacked and stabbed, left for the dead. Then, in the most dramatic way possible, the killers sit down to congratulate themselves with wine. Soon, they too are dead because the youngest rake poisoned the wine.

Finally, a third example of irony is that in “The Nun Priest’s Tale”. In the first few lines of the


Download as:   txt (5.3 Kb)   pdf (79.3 Kb)   docx (10.6 Kb)  
Continue for 3 more pages »
Only available on