Geoffrey Chaucer was widely considered as the greatest English poet in the 14th century. His poem “Canterbury Tales” reflects his own age and forms a wonderful commentary upon the life in the Middle Ages.
The group of pilgrims described in the Prologue is itself an unequaled picture of the society of Chaucer’s time. During the Middle Ages, Church was a major part of everyday life. The church served to give people spiritual guidance. Chaucer introduced the characters which form the part of the society and represent various aspects of the society. The Prolgue is often referred to as a social chronicle. The thirty pilgrims set off to visit the relics of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathdral, where they thank to the martyr for having helped them when they where in need. Chaucer alludes the 14th century England, in this period England saw the Great Famine, Black Death, catastrophic events that killed around half of England’s population. Chaucer employed the form of ‘estate satire ‘- a common literary genre in the Middle Ages -that classified people according to their occupation or position in society, with an accompanying list of flaws and virtues associated with each category.
The characters all came from different class backgrounds. Society in England is divide in to three estates:the Clergy, the Nobility and the Peasantry. The use of a pilgrimage as the framing device enabled Chaucer to bring together people from many walks of life: knight, prioress, monk; merchant, man of law, franklin, scholarly clerk; miller, reeve, pardoner; wife of Bath and many others. The Knight has the highest position among the pilgrims. Knight, Squire and yeoman represent the feudal chivalry of the time. Chaucer also represents the reigous order of medieval England through his representstion of the persons of some religious professions. They include ;Monk, Friar, Clerk, Parson, Pardoner, and Summoner.
The knight is the symbol of medieval world of chivalry. The Knight’s son, The Squire, who represents the new trends. The Knight participated in the religious wars or the The Crusades fought against infidels.The chivalric Knight were judged on the basis of the wars they fought for the religion and the old knight falls in this group where as young Squire who loves singing, dancing, drawing and playing flute. The Knight serves in three broad areas; Sothern Spain, Northern Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Northen Europe. Each campaign was conduted for the expansion of both the Church and European civilization. The Squire represents the youth of all the ages.