The Significance Of Clothing In The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue

949 words - 4 pages

Throughout The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue, Chaucer’s use of the characters’ clothing, to symbolize what lies beneath the surface of each personality is significant. Chaucer strongly uses the Knight, the Squire and the Prioress’s clothing to symbolize how their personalities are reflected through The Canterbury Tales.
The Knight’s true character is portrayed through his modest apparel. His character is displayed by the way he chooses to show himself in public, which is a noble knight, that is why he wears dirty clothes and chooses to come on the pilgrimage straight from battle. “A Knight there was and that a worthy man, that from time that he first began. To riden out, he loved chivalry. Truth and honour, freedom and courtesy,” (43-46). This quote shows how his humbleness is not warranted because he has the highest social standing out of the other members of the pilgrimage. It clearly demonstrates his morals which are truth, honour, freedom and courtesy. In the Prologue, humbled by his life experiences, the Knight dresses plainly. Garbed in a stained coarse cotton tunic, the Knight sits upon his horse. His armor left dark smudges on his tunic. Seen in a different setting, the Knight's attire would say little about his life as an honorable man. By humbling oneself, a true hero lends credence to the fact that flash is not always needed. Humbling experiences cause people to step back and analyze the fortune they have; they learn that they do not have to wear flashy clothes to have their achievements acknowledged. Sometimes people boast of their success through fine clothing unlike the Knight. “Ne never yet no villainy he said,” (70). This quote shows the Knight is not only humble but is also never rude to anyone. Another example of the Knight’s good character is found in line 72, which says, “He was a very perfect gentle knight.” This quote clearly exemplifies the Knight’s good qualities in relation to the way that he dresses.
The Yeomen succumbs to society's inclination that when he dresses the part he will become successful. He decides to wears a coat with a green hood. From a low social standing, he believes that the better he looks the more successful he will become. Emphasis should be placed on one's achievements and inner self rather than outward appearance. “A sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen,” (104). This demonstrates how the Yeoman appears to be in a moderately high social class, but in reality he is a lowly servant. He wears bright and keen garments which implies that he thinks of himself as an important person. An elaborate brace is worn on his arm to protect it from the bow. At first glance, one would assume that he was a superior archer of high standings rather then a lowly Yeomen. “A Christopher on his breast of silver...

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