14 Jan 2019

MA English part.1 paper poetry,Chaucer s' Art of characterization

Discuss Chaucer Art of characterization?


Chaucer's Art of Characterization
Chaucer's 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 minute’s detail of his characters, their dresses, look and manners enable him to present his 
characters lifelike and not mere bloodless abstractions.
His Prologues is a real picture gallery in which thirty portraits are hanging on the wall 
with all of their details and peculiarities
Indeed, his characters represent English society, morally and socially, in the real and recognizable type and still more representative of humanity in general.
 So, the characters in Chaucer’s "The Prologue" are for all ages and for all lands .Though the plan of the Canterbury's Tales has been taken from Giovanni, Italian poet, Chaucer's technique of characterization is original and unique. As a result his characters are not only of his age but universal in nature. They are not only types 
but individuals. Tim Brink wrote:
" We receive such an exact idea of the men he
(Chaucer) is describing that we can almost see them bodily before our eyes"
Chaucer is the first great painter of character in English literature.
The thirty portraits traced by Chaucer give us an excellent idea of the society at that time. The different pilgrims represent different professionals. For example, the doctor, the sergeant, the Oxford Clerk and the fair represent certain traits which characterize their respective professionals.
 The war-like elements are represented by the Knight, the Squire and the Yeomen. The Sergeant of Law, the Doctor, the Oxford Clerk and the Poet himself represent the liberal Professions. The wife of Bath, the Weaver embody industry and trade; similarly the Merchant and Shipman personate commerce. The cook and the Host typify provisional trades. The poor parson and the Summoner  represent the secular clergy while the monastic order represent the Prioress and the Pardoner . Thus, the characters in the Canterbury Tales are types as well as individual, as each of them represents a definite profession or class of society and portrays certain individual characteristics with all their idiosyncrasies of dress and speech A. C. Ward asserted:
"Chaucer's characters are not mere phantoms of the brain but real human beings and types true to the likeness of whole classes of men and women"

He describes them in the most nature denial and humors manner. Although, Chaucer characters are typical, they also have other features which are not be found in other members of their profession.
Thus, his characters can be distinguished from their colleagues because he imparts individual traits to them. These features distinguish them as individuals. For Example, the Shipman has a beard; the wife of Bath is Som –del-deef- and gat toothed ; the Reeve has long and lean legs."
On his nose, the Summoner's face is full of pimples and squire is " as fresshe as is the, monthe of May" Chaucer's lawyer seems typical of our own day when he says:
"Nowhere so bisy a man as he ther was/ And yet he seemed bisier than he was"
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 sketches, Chaucer coveys a strong sense of individuality and depth. Chaucer does not take a dramatic approach in the Canterbury Tales.
 Unlike Wycliffe and Langland , he has board humanity and sympathy for all the characters, the just and the unjust . We feel a sense of comradeship with Chaucer. They are shown to possess those traits and humors and habits that characterize the men and women of all ages in the world. Their traits are universal, though some of them have changed their positions yet their nature is the same. Chaucer uses the technique of contrast in drawing the portraits of the pilgrims. The good and the bad rub shoulders together.
 We have the paragon of virtue in the person and the Ploughman and monsters of vice in the Reeve, the Miller and the Summoner . Like  Shakespeare , Chaucer's characters are three-dimensial i.e , having length, breadth and depth. For example, the wife of Bath and Monk are complex figure. Chaucer has been called and outstanding representative poet of his ago because of the typical element in his characterization. So Dryden says:
All his pilgrims are severally distinguished from each other and not only in their inclinations but also their physiongnomies and persons".