As the World Turns, People Remains the Same
The Canterbury Tales through written during the 14th century , tells the story of characters with the same traits, values and characteristics of people we may know today or have read about in history. I will describe the characteristics, values, and beliefs of three characters, namely; the Franklin, the Knight, the Parson. I will attempt to show that as the world turns, people seem to remain the same.
Chaucer in his writing of this story used feudalism when identifying his characters. He placed each character in a class status as was common during this area. Today, many are still identified or accepted based on their education, financial status.
Let's start with the Franklin. Chaucer begins the description of the Franklin by saying that white as a daisy-petal was his beard. As we all know, Santa is known for his signature long white beard. Although there is no other real physical characteristics of the Franklin given, I envision him with a bright outfit, may be red or orange to go along with his cheerful personality. The Franklin is a sanguine man, high-colored, benign. This means that the Franklin was often laughing, high-colored, flashy, good-natured fellow.
As we think about Santa, I think of someone being jolly, festive, and a very content fellow which seems to be quite compatible with the personality of the Franklin.
The Franklin and Santa Claus also share a very interesting trait. They both love their food. Chaucer does not tell us, I think that the Franklin was a heavy man, considering all the references which he makes about the Franklin and food. His table was always filled with the best food and wines, and bake-meat pies.
Santa on the other hand consumes lots and lots of cookies each year during while passing out Christmas gifts to those who were good during the year. I am sure this accounts for Santa's weight problem.
The Franklin and Santa are both friendly, joyful and pleasant men. The Franklin made his household free to all in the county. Santa spends all of his time greeting young children and taking their Christmas wishes. They both have big hearts and big appetites. They both are model men. Chaucer calls the Franklin a model among landed gentry. Santa is also well-known and respected among the masses. If only these two could have known each other, I am sure they would have had a great time among all of the festivities surrounding them.
Now let's look at The Knight. Here is a man who is of the highest social standing on the pilgrimage, though his clothes do not show this. Chaucer describes the knight as a worthy man who had fought in the Crusades. He was filled with chivalry, honor, truth and generosity. The person in this century that comes to mind is the Honorable General Colin Powell. He too wear the armor of chivalry, honor, truth and generosity. Like the Knight, General Powell is a recipient of numerous U.S. military awards and decorations, such as the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Soldier's Mdeal, Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. His civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, and many other distinguished awards can be added to this list.
Also, the Knight had participated bravely in fifteen mortal battles. General Powell served two tours of duty in Vietnam and served as a battalion commander in Korea. He later commanded the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and V Corps, United States Army, Europe. As you can see, the Knight and General Powell have a lot in common. I bet they would have some real wartime stories to tell.
The Knight and General Powell share great dignity and both embodies the character of the ideal man created by Chaucer.
Along with the Knight is the Knight's son the Squire who is the total opposite of his father. He indeed had some military experience, his motive for being in the military was to impress the ladies and not God. He loved to dress, very cultivated with social graces and is quite aware of his obligation to serve his father the Knight. Chaucer's squire is much like Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty. Prince Phillip is the man who, knowing not that Sleeping Beauty is hiding in the forest, falls in love with the little peasant girl. Once he finds out who she is he kills the evil fairy to win the chance to kiss her and save her life.
Prince Phillip is like the Squire because he is willing to do anything for the love of a lady. The Squire is a young man of about twenty. He is a "lover" and "lusty bachelor." He is "courteous, humble," and subservient to his father. He can sing and dance, joust, and write songs and
poems. He seems to be just what every lady dreams of. He has great strength. He is
compared to the description of spring, "as fresh as the month of May."
Prince Phillip follows these lines almost exactly. Phillip is told as a young boy that he will marry the Princess Aurora, but he does not grow up knowing her and comes to fall in love with her by mere chance. Before he realizes who she is, he insists upon marrying her, showing his father that he loves "hotly" just as the young Squire. He is willing to do anything for her, even battle and
kill the evil fairy. He is obviously worthy of any young lady's dreams, because he has the dreams of Aurora, and also seems to shock the dwarves with his charming looks as soon as they lay eyes on him. He is a prince, and therefore very well bred and knight-like. He however, falls in love with the princess by mere looks and by watching her sing - a flaw that also appears in the Squire - he cares more for beautiful natural things than he does for higher ideals.
Prince Phillip and the Squire are both meant to be good guys, and they both are in many respects. They are well bred and chivalrous and fight well for honor. They both have the flaw of falling in love for beauty and passion however, and although Disney does not seem to look down on the Prince for this, Chaucer seems to hold it against the Squire. Chaucer seems to be using the
Squire to point out this flaw in the world, and uphold the righteousness of the Knight that the Squire may someday become.
Now let's take a look a a good guy, the Parson who serves as a cleric or pastor. He seems to be almost perfect, but as we know, none of us are perfect. However, this is a saintly man who was from a small and poor parish in the country. He had a heart for the lowly class, for he never forgot from whence he came. He is not physically described, maybe because he is such an ideal person. The work that he did proved his love and Christianity. His character reminds me of Mother Theresa. Beyond the obvious difference in gender, their lives were very much the same. Both worked hard to better the lives of others around them. Both worked in absence of the comforts that tend to come along with fame and glory.
The Parson is ideal of what a traveler on the journey to Canterbury should be. He is learned and possess much virtue. He practices what he preaches, knowing that he must set the example for the common people. He realizes that if the priest that the people trust is foul, that no one can ever expect the people to be righteous citizens. The Parson is different from other priests because he does not run off to bigger and better places and rent his parish to someone else. His ideal qualities definitely make him more approved of than anyone else on the journey, especially spiritually.
The Parson is somewhat like Mother Theresa in many of these areas. Mother Theresa worked as a teacher in Calcutta. During this time she lead such a strong example that the children began to call her "ma." She prayed with them and went to visit them in the slums on the weekends. The classes rose from near one hundred to three hundred. She was the perfect example for creating
good citizens out of the children, and not only taught them what they needed to know, but showed them how to live by modeling. Mother Theresa was also like the Parson in the sense that she did not run off to a more luxurious lifestyle in another place. She stayed in Calcutta and learned to speak fluent Bengali. She slept with the Sisters of the Poor and each day returned to give the children a cup of milk, a bar of soap, and a lesson about God and life. She definitely set a strong spiritual example for children who otherwise would have had little or no religious direction.
As Chaucer intended, the Parson is portrayed with a somewhat saint-like capacity. Both Mother Theresa and the Parson acted out of the love of God to improve the lives of those around them. They brought the scripture, St. John 13:35 to life, "by this shall all men know that you are my disciples that you have love one TO another."
As we look at each of these characters, I am sure that though they may have been fictitious, and was created in the mind of Chaucer many years ago, we can identify someone now, or someone in past history that each of these characters reminds us of.
Though the world may change, time may change, seasons change, our lives change, but in every generation from the beginning of time to the present, the characteristics of people never change. Someone we know will always remind us of someone else. I believe it is true, that there are generational traits, (some call them curses) that are passed down from generation to generation. This indeed attribute the title of this paper, "As The World Turns, People Remain The Same."