• Perminder Kaur

CHAUCER - THE TORCH BEARER OF LITERATURE

Updated: Aug 2


The period from 1343 AD to 1450 AD approx marked a significant development in the area of literature. The first star of literature was Geoffrey Chaucer after which an entire era or age is named “ Age of Chaucer”. This happened mainly because there was no earlier recorded works which could have been more significant. However, undoubtedly he was one of the gems of English literature or rather in a way a pioneer. He impressed the then ruler of England, Charles III so much so that he supplied a gallon of wine daily to him due to his unbeatable work.

Let’s get a view at the historical significance of this period as history is the aspect which always affects literature. They go hand in hand. So, there were basically three major events that took place.

A) 100 Years War

There was a state of constant war between England and France which took place with changing France taking over always. However, finally England was able to gain its power using the long bow technique in the war. The war was basically from the period of 1337 AD to 1453 AD. Chaucer participated in the war.

B) Black Death

Black Death was a pandemic which took place from 1346 AD to 1353 AD and swiped away almost one-third population of Europe. It also laid a big stress economically.

C) Peasant’s Revolt

This can be said to be an outburst of the earlier two incidents. Due to great economic pressure and reduced population, the most effected class was of Peasants. They were almost over-stressed to pay the taxes anyhow. Hence, they revolted against the aristocrats led by Wat Tyler.

So, we see that all these events along with the extensive travel of Chaucer in Europe, affected his writing and gave an inspiration to write some commendable works. There are many significant works he wrote, but three most notable ones are :

A) Parliament of Fowls

It is a 700 lines poem which has a description of birds choosing their mates with nature as its theme.

B) Troilus and Criseyde

It is an epic poem about the love story of Troilus and Criseyde with the backdrop of a war. Shakespeare later wrote a retelling of this.

C) Canterbury Tales

This is the magnum opus of Chaucer telling the stories narrated by different pilgrims during their journey to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket. This was supposed to contain stories. However, Chaucer was able to complete only 24 stories before he died.

Chaucer influenced many literary writers who wrote after him and imitated him so much so that they were called “ Chaucerians “. He was one of the first most significant writers of literature. However, there are many more to be discussed later. So, stay tuned for the wonderful experience which takes you back in time and makes you adore literature.

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