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What is the social significance of "the Canterbury Tales"
Chaucer likely wrote The Canterbury Tales in the late 1380s and early 1390s, after his retirement from life as a civil servant, and this is when he sets the action. This was a time of great social upheaval in England. [ The plague had killed a huge percentage of the population, making way for social mobility that led to class tension. In the past, medieval society had been made up of three "estates," or broad groupings by occupation: military types, religious people (like priests and nuns), and peasants. But now, a new, middle class of artisans and merchants, of which Chaucer was a part, was
taking over England. Their concerns and interests, as well as the conflict between their new, more cosmopolitan way of life and the traditional values of the "three estate" society, are behind of a lot of the conflict we see in The Canterbury Tales. Another important social issue at this time was the very lowest class's increased power. Because so many able-bodied workers had died in the Plague, farm workers could now auction off their services to the highest bidder. This meant that these members of society had more power and geographic mobility than ever before. Naturally, the landowners who paid them were unhappy about this, and tried to pass laws restricting these people's movement. The tension between these social groups may have been responsible for the hardening of negative stereotypes about lower-class people, which we see expressed in portraits of people like the Miller and Reeve. ]
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Expert answered|selymi|Points 9966|
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Asked 1/24/2013 9:16:52 AM
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